California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of January 7, 2011
El Camino Hospital, Mountain View
Anthem Blue Cross and El Camino Hospital agreed on a contract nine days before the existing contract was set to expire, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Hospital officials said the new deal will result in "fair and equitable" reimbursement rates for treating patients.
Chris Ernst, a spokesperson for the hospital, said the contract covers multiple years. Ernst declined to reveal the new reimbursement rates or other specific details about the contract (Samuels, San Jose Mercury News, 12/22/10).
Kaiser Permanente Ontario Medical Center
The $550 million Kaiser Permanente Ontario Medical Center is expected to open in August, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The new center will include a five-story hospital and an accompanying five-story complex. The hospital will have 224 beds and a 36-bed emergency department (Steinberg, Contra Costa Times, 12/30/10).
Loma Linda University Medical Center, Murrieta
Officials from the Loma Linda University Medical Center in Murrieta failed to receive an exemption from the federal health reform law that prevents new physician-owned hospitals from receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Despite efforts by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Loma Linda officials said they could not secure the waiver for the new $211 million project in Murietta before Congress adjourned at the end of 2010.
As a result, Loma Linda might have to buy out the 45% stake of the project currently held by Physicians Group of Murrieta. Loma Linda CEO Ruthita Fike said if that happens, the added costs might cause Loma Linda to cut services elsewhere (Hill, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/23/10).
The medical center plans to open its new 106-bed Murrieta hospital in March (Steinberg, Contra Costa Times, 12/30/10).
Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, Thousand Oaks
On Dec. 20, 2010, nurses at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center canceled their plans to hold a strike from Dec. 23, 2010 through Dec. 28, 2010, the Ventura County Star reports.
Los Robles is one of three Hospital Corporation of America facilities that received strike notices on Dec. 13, 2010. Nurses at Riverside Community Hospital and West Hills Hospital and Medical Center did not cancel their strike plans.
Service Employees International Union-Local 121RN, which represents 1,829 nurses at the three hospitals, said the strike notices stemmed from disputes over staffing and wages. The Los Robles nurses said they decided to withdraw their strike notice after assessing union members and determining that there might not be sufficient support for a strike. SEIU-Local 121RN plans to restart negotiations with the hospital at a later time (Gregory, Ventura County Star, 12/20/10).
Marin General Hospital, Greenbrae
Marin Superior Court Judge Verna Adams recently ruled that Marin General Hospital Corporation must submit to arbitration over its claim that Sutter Health illegally diverted $120 million in profits from the hospital during its ownership of the facility, the Marin Independent Journal reports (Halstead, Marin Independent Journal, 12/29/10).
In August 2010, Marin General Hospital Corporation filed a lawsuit claiming that Sutter improperly transferred more than $30 million annually from the hospital's reserves to Sutter accounts since 2006, when Sutter and Marin Healthcare District agreed to take steps toward separation (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 12/29/10).
In October 2010, Sutter submitted a petition seeking arbitration on the issue, asserting that the 2006 transfer agreement required both parties to arbitrate their differences. The judges ruling comes in response to the October petition (Marin Independent Journal, 12/29/10).
Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego
Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego recently purchased two four-story buildings as part of a larger campaign to enlarge and update its facilities, CEO Kathleen Sellick announced in an e-mail to hospital staff, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Chief Operating Officer Meg Norton said the hospital bought the 170,000 square-foot office buildings and a nearby parking garage for an undisclosed price from Cambridge Health Center of San Diego. The office buildings will be used for pediatric research and to expand outpatient services, according to hospital officials.
The purchase comes after the October 2010 opening of a four-story Acute Care Pavilion that increased Rady's number of licensed beds from 288 to 442 (Lavelle, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/27/10).
Riverside Community Hospital
A five-day strike by about 800 registered nurses at Riverside Community Hospital ended on Dec. 28, 2010, and a federal mediator is trying to resume labor negotiations, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
John Arnold, spokesperson for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said officials are communicating with the hospital and with leaders of the Service Employees International Union Local 121RN to restart negotiations (Katzanek, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/28/10).
Union members and hospital officials have been discussing a new contract for more than eight months, and the federal mediators have been involved since September 2010. Additional hospitals that have been affected by the negotiations include:
- Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks; and
- West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley.
Union representatives have said they want a contract that allows them more say in staffing and training issues, as well as more flexibility in adherence to standards (Katzanek, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/23/10).
Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital
Officials at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital recently said they might change their plans to lay off about 90 workers represented by a new union by the end of 2010, the Monterey County Herald reports.
National Union of Healthcare Workers officials said that the hospital had offered to lay off just 20 employees, but the union did not accept the offer. A union representative said it rejected the offer because it believes layoffs are unnecessary.
In a memo to employees, the hospital said it did not intend to change the number the layoffs but that it might change when the layoffs will take effect. However, the number of layoffs could change based on hospital revenue and employee attrition, according to the Herald (Johnson, Monterey County Herald, 12/23/10).
San Antonio Community Hospital, Upland
This year, San Antonio Community Hospital plans to break ground on a $150 million expansion project, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The project will increase the capacity of the hospital's emergency department to 52 beds. The hospital also plans to add a four-story patient tower with 12 critical care beds and 80 private medical/surgical rooms (Steinberg, Contra Costa Times, 12/30/10).
San Jose Medical Center
After tearing down several buildings at the site of the former San Jose Medical Center, demolition crews are preparing to remove an overhead pedestrian bridge that linked the hospital to the San Jose Medical Market office building, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The Medical Market office building, which includes a pharmacy, is expected to remain in place.
Hospital Corporation of America closed San Jose Medical Center in 2004 and the property now is owned by Santa Clara County. Officials are considering using a portion of the former medical center campus to build a new urgent care center (Pizarro, San Jose Mercury News, 1/6).
San Mateo Medical Center
On Thursday, about 50 nurses rallied outside San Mateo Medical Center to protest recent budget cuts that they said have negatively affected patient care, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Nurses at the 509-bed public hospital said more funding would help them obtain needed equipment and increase staffing levels. The protest partially stems from ongoing contract negations between the San Mateo County Health System and the California Nurses Association, which represents many of the nurses (Rosenberg, San Jose Mercury News, 1/6).
Sutter Roseville Medical Center
Registered nurses at Sutter Roseville Medical Center have been working without a union contract since July 2010, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The California Nurses Association, which represents 861 nurses at Sutter Roseville, is seeking a one-year contract to bring the Roseville hospital into contract negotiations the same year as 10 other bargaining units across the Sutter Health system. Sutter Roseville is seeking a four-year contract that would not align with the other bargaining units (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 12/17/10).
Ventura County Medical Center
On Jan. 12, Ventura County Medical Center is slated to hold a community meeting on its plans to comply with state seismic safety standards, the Ventura County Star reports.
During the meeting, the medical center will present its draft conceptual proposal, which could involve replacing older portions of the hospital with a three-story wing that includes 110 beds, imaging services and operating rooms. The proposal also could involve an expansion of the hospital's emergency department.
Mike Powers, director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency, said construction could begin at the end of 2012 and be completed in 2016, which is four years before the hospital's deadline to meet seismic safety standards (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 1/4).
Washington Hospital, Fremont
Anthem Blue Cross has threatened to terminate its agreement with Washington Hospital on Friday if it fails to reach an agreement concerning reimbursement rates charged by the hospital, the Oakland Tribune reports.
If no agreement is reached, Anthem policyholders might need to visit other hospitals in the region to receive in-network rates for nonemergency care. Washington Hospital officials said that they expect to reach an agreement with Anthem and that they are not seeking a rate increase.Â Anthem officials declined to comment on the issue (Artz, Oakland Tribune, 1/6).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.