California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of March 21, 2008
Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers-West has purchased two billboard ads in downtown Fresno and is running print ads in several publications to gather public support for its effort to represent about 2,000 workers at Community Medical Centers, the Fresno Bee reports.
The union is in the process of collecting worker signatures to force a labor vote, and it has asked Community to accept an agreement on how the election would be conducted (Correa, Fresno Bee, 3/16).
Kaweah Delta Hospital has asked UC-Irvine School of Medicine to consider establishing a residency program at the hospital, the Fresno Bee reports. Three faculty members from the medical school will visit the hospital and meet with staff and hospital district board members on April 1.
Lindsay Mann, CEO of Kaweah Delta, said hospital officials hope the program will encourage residents to set up their medical practices in the area, which is facing a doctor shortage.
A study by EMG Management Consultants of Boston found that the hospital had the resources to set up residency programs with UC-Irvine in four areas:
- Emergency medicine;
- Family practice; and
- General surgery (Griswold, Fresno Bee, 3/17).
UCLA's Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital has banned cell phones and laptop computers after a patient posted photos of other patients on a social networking Web site, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In a memo dated March 3, Thomas Stouse, medical director of the hospital, wrote that the effort was part of the "UCLA Health System's ongoing efforts to enhance patient privacy and confidentiality in compliance with California's patient rights law." Stouse said banning all cell phones and laptops was preferable to having staff members check individual devices for cameras (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/18).
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Health last week launched an investigation of the hospital after several employees were fired, suspended or otherwise disciplined for electronically accessing pop star Britney Spears' confidential medical records during her recent hospitalization at the facility. Unauthorized access of medical records violates the health system's policies, as well as state and federal medical privacy laws (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/15).
Riverside Community Hospital officials have announced a $400 million expansion project that will double the size of the facility and bring it into compliance with state seismic safety laws, the Riverside Press Enterprise reports.
Hospital officials plans to submit a proposal to the city in the next few weeks, with construction expected to begin in 2011 and finish in 2013 (Strindberg et al., Riverside Press Enterprise, 3/15).
On Monday, the California Nurses Association and nurses at St. Agnes Medical Center filed a request with the National Labor Relations Board seeking authorization to hold a vote to decide whether nurses would join the union, the Fresno Bee reports.
Don Nielsen, a CNA representative, said nurses at the hospital are seeking union representation to voice concerns about staffing ratios and patient-safety issues. The union plans to pursue a pre-election agreement that would prohibit the hospital from hiring outside anti-union consultants (Correa, Fresno Bee, 3/17).
The owners of two medical campuses in Santa Rosa filed a lawsuit last week that seeks to stop Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital from ending acute inpatient services at the facilities, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.
The owners, Jim Berger and Dan Marrin, allege that Memorial's plan to end services at the facilities in mid-April violates their lease, jeopardizes licensing of the campuses and harms medical practices that have taken years to build up. The suit, filed in Sonoma County Superior Court, seeks financial damages and a temporary restraining order to block Memorial from ending services (Espinoza, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/15).
As many as 4,000 unionized nurses planned to begin a 10-day strike this morning at Sutter Health hospitals in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Sutter and the California Nurses Association have been in dispute over contract negotiations since last spring. The strike is the third in six months at the hospitals.
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, which employs about 1,800 registered nurses, has hired about 500 nurses to work at its Oakland and Berkeley campuses during the strike. The strike will not affect services, Carolyn Kemp, Alta Bates Summit spokesperson, said. Services also will continue as normal at California Pacific Medical Center's campuses (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/21).
Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital and Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch also have hired replacement nurses. Hospital officials said they cannot estimate how much the strike will cost Sutter Health (Kleffman, San Jose Mercury News, 3/21).
Other hospitals affected by the strike include:
- Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Antioch;
- St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco; and
- Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/21).
- Kevin McCormack, a spokesperson for CPMC;
- Jan Rodolfo, a registered nurse and member of the CNA negotiating team; and
- Joanne Spetz, a health economist and adjunct professor at the UC-San Francisco School of Nursing ("Forum" Web site, 3/21).
ValleyCare Health System planned to begin construction this week on the first phase of a $6.7 million expansion that will increase the size of the emergency department from 4,000 to 10,000 square feet, the East Bay Business Times reports.
The first phase, slated for completion in September, includes adding 12 new rooms to the ED and a separate room for the hospital's Sexual Assault Response Team.
Meanwhile, the hospital plans to open a new women's imaging center on April 1. The facility will offer:
- Digital mammograms; and
- Bone density scans (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 3/14).