California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of March 7, 2014
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
On Friday, a U.S. district court judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevents Alta Bates Summit Medical Center from implementing planned layoffs and a job restructuring initiative that was scheduled to begin on March 2, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The California Nurses Association filed a lawsuit against the hospital over the layoffs and changes, which they said violated contract requirements that mandate Alta Bates submit contract disputes "to a grievance and arbitration process."
According to the Business Journal, the hospital has complied with the temporary injunction and reversed the plans. On March 12, the court will determine whether to levy a preliminary injunction on the hospital (Rauber, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/4).
A whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2012 and unsealed last week alleges that Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center -- a now-closed hospital that was owned by Pacific Health -- defrauded millions of dollars from Medicare and Medi-Cal over the course of a decade through an illegal kickback scheme, the Orange County Register reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In the lawsuit, a former LAMMC nurse says that the hospital administration worked with doctors, ProCare Mobile Response ambulance company, the medical marketing firm SGG and several nursing homes around the area to detain elderly and disabled patients in LAMMC's psychiatric ward without medical or legal cause. LAMMC then billed the government for those patients' unnecessary care. According to the Register, LAMMC's Medicare and Medi-Cal billings increased from $101.9 million in 2003 to $191 million in 2012.
Last May, federal authorities declined to look into the case, although they reserved the right to investigate further at a later point (Wolfson, Orange County Register, 3/4).
San Francisco General Hospital
The family of a patient who went missing at San Francisco General Hospital and was later found dead have filed a claim against the city of San Francisco, which owns and operates the hospital facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports (Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 3/5).
The patient -- a 57-year-old woman -- was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 19, 2013, with an infection and was reported missing from her hospital room two days later. On Oct. 8, 2013, a member of the hospital's engineering staff found the woman's body in a hospital stairwell that was used as a fire escape (California Healthline, 2/7).
In the claim, the plaintiffs accuse the city of reckless neglect, medical neglect, breach of duty, maintaining dangerous property and of violating an elder abuse law designed to protect adults who are admitted to hospitals (Los Angeles Times, 3/5).
San Ramon Regional Medical Center
On Monday, San Ramon Regional Medical Center opened the Advanced Care Wound Center to offer hospital patients better-coordinated and more advanced treatment options for chronic, non-healing wounds, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The wound care center will offer two hyperbaric chambers for open-wound treatment, four patient rooms and a multidisciplinary team of six physicians, two wound-care nurses and one hyperbaric oxygen therapy technician (Tsai, Contra Costa Times, 3/3).
Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla
On Wednesday, Scripps Health broke ground on a $175 million, six-story medical building as part of its $2 billion renovation plan at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, U-T San Diego reports.
The 175,000-sqaure-foot building is scheduled to open in 2016. It will house several different medical specialists, including cardiologists and neurologists, as well as four cardiac catheterization labs for outpatient angioplasty procedures (Sisson, U-T San Diego, 3/5).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.