California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of September 23, 2011
California Pacific Medical Center-St. Luke's Hospital, San Francisco
Sutter Health has hit a roadblock in its plan to pursue a $2.5 billion renovation of its California Pacific Medical Center facilities in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The project aims to replace CPMC's older hospital buildings with newer facilities that meet state seismic safety standards.
However, San Francisco city officials have prevented the proposal from moving forward, saying they want a written guarantee that CPMC's St. Luke's campus will remain open at its current location for 20 years. Hospital officials say they plan to keep St. Luke's open for longer than 20 years, but they are hesitant to provide a written guarantee in case the economy worsens or an unexpected circumstance arises (Kane, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/20).
Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach
Hoag Hospital has reduced its staff by 3.5%, laying off about 175 of the roughly 5,000 employees in its hospital system, the Orange County Register reports.
Nina Robinson -- a spokesperson for Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach -- said the layoffs primarily affected staff in non-clinical positions, adding that no physicians were laid off. According to Robinson, the hospital decided to reduce its staff partly because of the weak economy and forthcoming changes related to the federal health reform law (Milbourn, Orange County Register, 9/20).
NorthBay Medical Center, Fairfield
NorthBay Medical Center has received designation to operate a Level III trauma program, making it the first trauma center in Solano County, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The designation means that firefighters and emergency medical staff routinely will transfer patients with severe injuries to the center.
Steve Huddelson, a spokesperson for NorthBay, said the hospital has 90 days to complete paperwork and pay a fee for the designation. He added that NorthBay expects to start admitting serious trauma patients by the end of this month (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 9/19).
Simi Valley Hospital
Simi Valley Hospital plans to close its transitional care center rather than pursue costly renovations, the Ventura County Star reports.
Earlier this month, Simi Valley sent a letter to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors asking for the termination of the hospital's license to operate the 44-bed transitional unit, effective Oct. 10.
Michelle Foster -- the hospital's director of marketing and communications -- said the cost of renovating the center exceeded the community's need for transitional services. She added that patients in need of transitional care can obtain services from several nearby facilities (Ventura County Star, 9/20).
St. Rose Hospital, Hayward
Officials at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward recently announced that the hospital is reducing its workforce by about 10%, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
St. Rose CEO Michael Mahoney said the layoffs started on Wednesday and will continue over the next month. According to Mahoney, the need for cutbacks stemmed from cost pressures related to the recession, managed care contracting problems and the implementation of a new computer system.
Mahoney added that the hospital might need to work with Alameda County and Eden Township Healthcare District to address its financial problems (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 9/21).
UC-San Diego Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, La Jolla
The $227 million UC-San Diego Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center opened its emergency department on Sept. 7, five months later than expected, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The entire center initially was scheduled to open April 4, but the state Department of Public Health delayed the opening after identifying problems with the EDs at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest and UCSD Thornton Hospital.
After UCSD made corrections at those facilities, state officials approved the July 31 opening of the Sulpizio center, except for its ED. Earlier this month, officials issued verbal and written approval for the opening of the 25-bed Sulpizio ED (Lavelle, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16).
VA Defenders Lodge, Palo Alto
On Sept. 16, federal officials helped break ground on a new Defenders Lodge at VA Palo Alto Health Care System's medical campus, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, joined Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.) at the groundbreaking for the 34,000 square-foot facility, which will house out-of-town veterans and their family members. The lodge will have 54 suites and 108 queen-size beds, and it is expected to be completed in 2013.
Kerri Childress, a VA spokesperson, said the facility will replace VA Palo Alto's 49-bed Hometel. The project is being funded through a $12.5 million loan from the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation, with donors repaying the loan (Green, San Jose Mercury News, 9/17).
Victor Valley Community Hospital, Victorville
The office of state Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) will not allow Prime Healthcare Services to purchase Victor Valley Community Hospital, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.
Michael Troncoso, acting chief deputy attorney general, said in a statement that the sale "is not in the public interest and will likely create a significant effect on the availability or accessibility of health care services to the affected community" (Edwards, San Bernardino Sun, 9/21). Prime has faced scrutiny in recent months over allegations that it overbilled for certain conditions to receive higher payments (Jewett, California Watch, 9/20).
Prime has characterized Harris' decision as being influenced by the Service Employees International Union, which supported Harris during her election campaign last year. SEIU has criticized Prime's management, saying the health care system prioritizes profits over patients (Shimura, Victorville Daily Press, 9/20).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.