California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of January 28, 2010
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Oakland and Berkeley
Nearly 1,100 workers at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center will remain with Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West rather than switch to a rival labor group, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board announced that 510 employees voted to stay with SEIU-UHW and 448 voted for the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Twenty-one employees voted for "no union." NUHW officials said they plan to challenge the election results (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 1/21).
Aurora Las Encinas Hospital, Pasadena
A whistleblower lawsuit alleging that top officials at Aurora Las Encinas Hospital defrauded the federal government by providing inadequate patient care recently became public, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The lawsuit -- filed last year by a mental health worker at the hospital -- previously was under seal in a U.S. district court. The suit claims that the hospital's treatment of patients violated federal Medicare and Medicaid standards for quality health care.
Eric Rose, a spokesperson for the hospital, said the allegations were false and expressed confidence that the hospital "will prevail in this meritless lawsuit" (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 1/24).
California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco
Despite delays, California Pacific Medical Center is moving forward on plans to sell its outpatient dialysis services to Denver-based DaVita, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
CPMC officials originally estimated that the deal with DaVita would close by Nov. 1, 2010. However, the hospital said it has encountered delays in working with the California Department of Public Health to obtain a state license for DaVita. Officials now expect the deal to close on Feb. 1.
However, Ralph Montano, spokesperson for DPH, said there have been no delays at the department. Montano said that applications related to the sale were approved last month and that DPH is conducting a review of the facilities (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 1/21).
Daughters of Charity Health System, Los Altos Hills
The six-hospital Daughters of Charity Health System has launched a reorganization initiative to cut costs, curb operating losses and improve management, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
CFO Mike Stuart said the last two years have been challenging for the health system because of declining patient volume and shortfalls in reimbursement from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. To address the challenges, the health system plans to cut spending by between $7 million and $9 million by eliminating 87 jobs and imposing additional cutbacks. Daughters of Charity also is undertaking a Leadership, Efficiency, Accountability and Performance initiative -- also called LEAP -- which aims to make the health system operate more efficiently Â (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 1/21).
Kaiser Permanente, Northern California
The National Union of Healthcare Workers recently issued a statement suggesting that results from a recent election to represent 43,000 Kaiser Permanente health workers could be thrown out, the Vallejo Times-Herald reports.
NUHW questioned the campaign tactics used by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, which won the election over NUHW in October 2010. NUHW said the National Labor Relations Board is considering whether the results will stand and plans to hold a hearing on Feb. 7. SEIU-UHW officials said there is no merit to NUHW's allegations (Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times Herald, 1/22).
Lakewood Regional Medical Center
On Thursday, Lakewood Regional Medical Center launched an online emergency department reservation tool to help patients with nonemergency conditions avoid long ED wait times, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.
The InQuickER service, which costs $14.99, allows patients to make an appointment 90 minutes to two hours in advance. Patients who do not see a health worker within 15 minutes of their appointment time will receive a refund of their booking fee (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 1/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.