Contra Costa County Report Considers Effects of Possible Closure of Doctors Medical Center on Local Health Care System
According to a report commissioned by the Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Services agency, county residents could face "frightening scenarios" if Doctors Medical Center San Pablo/Pinole closes, Jim Beaver, executive director of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District, said, the Contra Costa Times reports. The 232-bed hospital operates west Contra Costa County's only full-service emergency department, which provides treatment to about 40,000 patients each year. "The bottom line is 40,000 emergency visits will be going out of the community," Beaver said of the report, which will be released Thursday at a public news conference, adding that a potential closure "will result in risks to patient safety." Because a smaller emergency department in Richmond operated by Kaiser Permanente is already at capacity, patients will have to be transported to Oakland, Vallejo or Walnut Creek, county health officials said. The Abaris Group, a consulting firm, completed the report.
District officials "have scrambled to find a way to keep the hospital open" since Tenet Healthcare, which currently operates the facility, announced in January that it would not renew its lease to operate the hospital when it expires July 31, the Times reports (Lochner, Contra Costa Times, 4/8). Last month, the district board unanimously approved a proposed June ballot measure that would establish an annual parcel tax to fund the hospital. District officials said that the tax, which would take effect July 1, would provide the immediate operating capital the hospital will need beginning Aug. 1 to remain open and would provide long-term stability for the hospital (California Healthline, 3/10). Meanwhile, the district has not yet identified a new operator of the hospital, The district is preparing to run the hospital beginning Aug. 1, which Beaver said would require the district to develop a "solid business plan" and adequate "funding to keep the hospital open" and operate the hospital in the future. Elected officials, clergy and health care activists plan to rally on Friday "to draw attention to what they see as an erosion of the availability of health care," the Times reports (Contra Costa Times, 4/8).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.