California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of November 8, 2013
El Centro Regional Medical Center
On Monday, Scripps Health and El Centro Regional Medical Center announced a 90-day exclusive negotiating period for the "possible acquisition and management" of the 161-bed medical center, U-T San Diego reports (Sisson, U-T San Diego, 11/4).
In May, El Centro hired financial advisor Hammond Hanlon Camp to sell or lease the hospital, which in recent years has increased its debt though several expansion projects (Kutscher, Modern Healthcare, 11/4).
Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder said a deal could be negotiated as early as Jan. 1, 2014 (U-T San Diego, 11/4).
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Emeryville
On Sept. 30, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital opened a 14,000 square-foot pediatric clinic in Emeryville, the San Francisco Business Times' "Bay Area BizTalk" reports.
The new clinic is part of a boarder outreach program by Lucile Packard, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Stanford Medicine to expand throughout the region.
The newly opened clinic houses 20 specialists in orthopedics, cardiology, gastroenterology and neurology and soon will announce additional specialties (Rauber, "Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 11/4).
Riverside County Regional Medical Center
On Tuesday, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors was asked to approve a two-year contract worth up to $25.9 million with the consulting firm Huron Healthcare to boost Riverside County Regional Medical Center's bottom line and improve long-term health care delivery strategies, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The contract would hold $2.7 million contingent on Huron meeting certain milestones. The contract likely would be paid through a loan from the county's waste management fund, according to a county spokesperson (Horseman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/31).
San Francisco General Hospital
On Wednesday, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi cited several problems with the investigation of a missing patient at San Francisco General Hospital who was later found dead, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports (Romney, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 11/6).
The patient -- a 57-year-old woman -- was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 19 with an infection and was found to be missing from her hospital room on Sept. 21. On Oct. 8, a member of the hospital's engineering staff found the woman's body in a hospital stairwell used as a fire escape (California Healthline, 11/1).
Mirkarimi said that several initial reports of the missing woman had inaccurate descriptions and that some deputies stationed at the hospital were not informed when the woman went missing. He said that "only about half the stairwells" in the hospital were searched during what was supposed to be a search of the "entire campus." In addition, surveillance videos that were requested by the San Francisco Sheriff's Office on Sept. 25 were not furnished until Oct. 3.
Mirkarimi said that "there will be staff changes" at the sheriff's office as a result of the incident. He also has ordered a thorough security assessment of the hospital and its staff communication practices ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 11/6).
San Leandro Hospital
On Oct. 31, Sutter Health officially transferred ownership of San Leandro Hospital to Alameda Health System, Becker's Hospital Review reports. Alameda Chief Administrative Officer James Jackson has taken over the day-to-day management of the hospital, in addition to his current role at Fairmont Hospital (Adamopoulos, Becker's Hospital Review, 10/31).
Alameda Health System will continue to operate current hospital services and intends to convert its unused fourth floor into a rehabilitation center. In addition, the health system has pledged to keep the hospital's emergency department and other acute services open if it receives adequate financial assistance (California Healthline, 10/25).
On Monday, Sutter Health agreed to pay $46 million and alter its billing system to settle allegations brought by Rockville Recovery Associates that the hospital chain inappropriately billed and disclosed its charges for anesthesia services, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/5).
Under the settlement, Sutter will bill for operating room anesthesia with a flat fee rather than on a time-based plan; detail every component of its anesthesia billing; publicly disclose the cost of such services; clarify the relationship between its master schedule of service charges and what is actually billed; and more readily permit payers to contest charges.
The state will receive $20 million from the settlement, which it will invest in fraud investigation and prevention (van der Meer, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/4).
Truven Health Analytics
The hospitals included: El Camino Hospital in Mountain View; PIH Health in Whittier; Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla; and Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento (Truven Health Analytics press release, 11/4).
University of California Medical Centers
The University Professional and Technical Employees and the California Nurses Association held an informational picket on Nov. 1 in front of University of California medical centers across the state to announce the results of a recently completed strike authorization ballot, the Orange County Register reports.
UPTE President Jelger Kalmijn said that if negotiations for increased pay continue to stall -- as they have over the past two years -- then the organization's members are authorizing the union to strike and that CNA will hold a sympathy strike. Kalmijn noted that UC is offering the union's employees a pay raise, but it is "the same as the pay cut being imposed by the pension plan."
UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said UPTE officials have agreed not to strike while negotiations are underway (Pimentel, Orange County Register, 11/3).
Washington Hospital, Fremont
On Oct. 21, Washington Hospital asked about 350 non-union employees who do not provide direct patient care to begin using one vacation day every two-week pay period, the Fremont Argus/Contra Costa Times reports.
Hospital spokesperson Christopher Brown said the move will cut the hospital's vacation liability by $150,000 each pay period, totaling $3.9 million by the end of the fiscal year. Brown said the policy would be reviewed again in January 2014 (McGlone, Fremont Argus/Contra Costa Times, 11/3).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.