California Hospitals Announce Staffing, Construction Efforts
Several newspapers recently published articles on issues at hospitals across the state. Summaries appear below.
Alameda County Medical Center and San Francisco General Hospital are partnering to launch Videoconferencing Medical Interpretation, a project that will let the facilities share about 50 interpreters who speak more than 20 languages combined, the Oakland Tribune reports (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 5/31).
ACMC last week linked to San Francisco General for the first time. The technology, which can be moved from room to room on carts, allows an interpreter working in one hospital to translate for a patient at the partnering hospital while watching what is taking place through a two-way video link (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 5/31).
The project, which was funded with $188,000 in grants from not-for-profit groups, is used in 20% of ACMC patient visits to primary care physicians, women's health physicians and clinics (Lai, East Bay Business Times, 5/30).
Antelope Valley Hospital on Wednesday offered the city of Palmdale $9.3 million for land allocated to a private hospital, set to begin construction this week, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Palmdale officials said they are not interested in selling the land, which the city acquired for $5.2 million (Maeshiro, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/2).
In addition, AVH officials are considering closing the hospital's psychiatric ward, the Daily News reports. The ward has been reduced from 30 beds to 12 beds and currently treats seven to eight patients daily, according to hospital officials. The ward loses about $1.5 million annually, hospital officials said.
Area mental health advocates oppose the possible closure of the unit.
Hospital board members have not finalized a decision on the closure, and hospital officials have requested financial assistance from Los Angeles County (Maeshiro, Los Angeles Daily News, 5/29).
Catholic Healthcare West-owned Community Hospital of San Bernardino posted a $400,000 to $500,000 profit in March and a $50,000 to $100,000 profit in April, the first time in 18 months that the hospital has not operated at a loss, the Knight Ridder/Business Press reports.
The hospital had posted a monthly loss of $1.5 million to $2 million for the past 18 to 24 months, and officials predicted an $8 million loss for the first 10 months of the fiscal year ending June 30. They attributed the projected losses to high charity care and labor costs and rising malpractice insurance rates.
The improved financial performance in March and April was driven by a $1.5 million reduction in workers' compensation and malpractice costs and an additional $2 million in funding from the California Medical Assistance Commission for care of low-income patients (Martin Tucker, Knight Ridder/Business Press, 5/30).
Desert Healthcare District and Riverside County are collaborating on a plan to build a medical center in Desert Hot Springs, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. The cost of the project has not been determined, according to City Council member Will Pieper.
Wayne Soucy, CEO for the Desert Healthcare District, said that the facility would not include inpatient beds.
The project would include a health clinic that supports services and private physician offices, according to the Press-Enterprise (Woods, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 5/25).
El Camino Hospital might delay construction of its planned $339 million, 300-bed hospital if a lawsuit challenging the project is not settled, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. In the lawsuit, which was filed in January, Aaron Katz -- who owns property in the El Camino Hospital District but does not reside there -- claims he should have been allowed to vote on a November 2003 ballot measure that approved $148 million in bonds to help finance the construction of the hospital. Katz also has stated that only property owners should have been allowed to vote on the measure.
The bond measure would assess $12 to $13 per $100,000 of assessed value of property in the district.
A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge on May 25 rejected El Camino's request to dismiss the lawsuit. El Camino officials will not comment on when the trial would begin or how it might affect the hospital's construction, according to the Business Journal.
El Camino Hospital canceled an April bond sale because of the lawsuit (Cutland, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 5/30).
Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare has hired an executive search firm to recruit a CEO for Doctors Medical Center - Modesto, which the company says it has no intention of selling, the Modesto Bee reports. On July 1, Doctors CEO Tim Joslin will leave the hospital to become CEO at Community Medical Centers in Fresno.
Plans to build a six-floor addition to the medical center will be delayed until the CEO position is filled, which could take three to six months (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 5/31).
Sequoia Hospital, also owned by CHW, has received a $1.9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to launch a program to improve nurse training at the facility, San Mateo Times reports.
The Nurse-to-Nurse project aims to improve patient care and lessen the impact of the ongoing nursing shortage by increasing retention. The project pairs new nurses or those with more generalized training with more experienced nurses to improve on-the-job clinical training.
Sequoia is one of four hospitals in the Bay Area to be chosen by the California Nurses Foundation to receive grants for the projects (Fancher, San Mateo Times, 6/2).
The Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in West Los Angeles has announced plans to hire additional physicians for its emergency department following the release of a study that found inadequate staffing in the department "jeopardizes both safety and the overall quality of care," the Los Angeles Times reports.
A six-member task force appointed by the hospital's chief of medicine in April released a report saying that increased workload, more severe illnesses and a low ratio of attending physicians to trainees put patients at risk.
To address the issue, hospital leaders have appointed a director of the ED and have plans to hire an additional staff physician for daytime hours. In addition, VA officials are considering contracting with a group of certified ED physicians to work night shifts, which currently are covered by fill-in doctors.
The changes are estimated to cost more than $1 million (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/2).