California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of November 11, 2011
Eisenhower Medical Center, Rancho Mirage
Two national financial ratings agencies have downgraded Eisenhower Medical Center's credit rating and indicated that more downgrades could follow, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports.
Moody's Investors Service dropped the hospital's rating from Baa1 to Baa2, and Fitch Ratings lowered its rating from A- to BBB. The agencies said they downgraded the ratings because the hospital has faced millions of dollars in losses. Moody's noted that Eisenhower posted a $30.7 million loss for fiscal year 2011 and projected a $21.5 million loss for FY 2012.
However, Lee Rice -- a spokesperson for Eisenhower -- said the medical center "is in strong financial shape, with a billion dollars in assets and a community that is very committed to the long-term success of this institution" (Kaufmann, Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/3).
The Fresno Council on Child Abuse Prevention has launched a program in Fresno County's six birthing hospitals that aims to teach new mothers how to prevent shaken baby syndrome, the Fresno Bee reports.
In the participating hospitals, new mothers are shown a video demonstrating how forceful shaking can harm an infant's brain. Esther Franco, the council's executive director, said the program is modeled after a similar program in New York state. Fresno County is the fifth California county to adopt such a program (Lopez, Fresno Bee, 11/7).
Hemet Valley Medical Center
The Joint Commission has given a three-year accreditation to Hemet Valley Medical Center for demonstrating compliance with standards for health care quality and safety, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The Joint Commission gave a "Gold Seal" to the 327-bed hospital after conducting a July inspection for compliance with various patient care standards, such as infection control, leadership and medical management. The inspection was the hospital's first Joint Commission evaluation since Physicians for Healthy Hospitals bought Hemet Valley Medical Center last year (Wesson, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/5).
Prime Healthcare Services
Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) is urging federal officials to inspect Prime Healthcare Services for possible fraud related to its Medicare billing and patient admission practices, California Watch reports.
Filner has sent a letter asking IRS officials to investigate "apparent tax evasion" related to a charitable gift that might have let Prime founder and chair Prem Reddy avoid federal taxes. Filner also sent a letter to HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson requesting an investigation into Prime's practices.
Anthony Glassman, an attorney for Prime, said Filner is "recycling already disproven allegations" and trying to "lock in union support" from the Service Employees International Union, which previously has criticized Prime (Jewett, California Watch, 11/6).
Redlands Community Hospital
On Monday, Redlands Community Hospital held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a three-year, $13 million expansion, the Redlands Daily Facts reports.
The expansion features 40 new beds, renovated units and a new nurses' station (Castro, Redlands Daily Facts, 11/7). Lauren Spillsbury, vice president of patient care services, said the expansion will allow the hospital to more quickly move patients from the emergency department to hospital beds (Sears, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/7).
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
On Nov. 4, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the rock band The Who pledged to raise money to help the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center renovate part of its pediatric floor into a cancer center for teenagers, the AP/Washington Post reports.
Robert Plant of the band Led Zeppelin and other celebrities also pledged to support the effort (AP/Washington Post, 11/4). The center -- which will be called the Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Center -- will be modeled after similar programs in the United Kingdom. The center is expected to open in about six months and will feature a community lounge, a pool table and video games (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 11/4).
Southwest Healthcare System, Riverside County
CMS has notified Southwest Healthcare System that its two hospitals once again are in compliance with Medicare's conditions of participation, according to a statement by Southwest's parent company Universal Health Services, Modern Healthcare reports (Galloro, Modern Healthcare, 11/7).
The hospitals -- Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta -- previously were on the brink of closure following allegations of poor patient care. However, federal officials recently informed Southwest that the hospitals passed a CMS inspection. Ken Rivers -- CEO and managing director of Southwest Healthcare System -- said the company also is in compliance with requirements of the state Department of Public Health, which previously sought to strip Southwest's license (Horseman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/7).
St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton
St. Jude Medical Center has started work on a $312 million expansion that includes a new four-story, 200,000 square-foot tower, the Orange County Register reports.
The new tower will add 120 beds andÂ will feature 14 operating roomsÂ equipped withÂ advanced technology. The tower also will include an operating room dedicated to neurosurgery. The tower is scheduled to open by fall 2014 (Ponsi, Orange County Register, 11/10).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.