CONTRA COSTA: County Official Opposes Pinole ER Closure
Dr. William Walker, director of Contra Costa County's Health Services Department and the top county health official, announced Wednesday his opposition to the closing of the emergency room at Doctors Medical Center in Pinole, the Contra Costa Times reports. Though he acknowledged the mounting financial strains facing hospital owner Tenet Healthcare Corp., Walker concluded that shutting down the ER would result in decreased access to health care. In discussing his preliminary impact evaluation, Walker said a "closure would increase hospital transport times" by as much as eight minutes and "could bring delays in paramedic services and other pre-hospital help." Gary Sloan, CEO of Doctors Medical Center, said the rise in transport times "would not harm patient care," adding that reduced federal Medicare reimbursements and lower patient loads have necessitated the ER closure. Next week, the county Board of Supervisors will review Walker's recommendation and the preliminary report. The California Health Services Department will review a final impact report, to be submitted Jan. 15, before rendering a decision. Tenet Healthcare plans to close the ER March 1, consolidating services at its San Pablo hospital (McMillan, 1/6).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.