Doctors Medical Center Unveils Surprise Plan To Avoid Closure
On Tuesday, Doctors Medical Center, a safety-net hospital in San Pablo, announced a "last-ditch strategy to keep the hospital open and restore emergency department services through 2019," the San Francisco Business Times' "Bay Area BizTalk" reports.
Background on Doctors Medical Center
For more than a decade, the hospital has struggled to find a sustainable business model to cover long-term capital funding needs.
Kaiser Permanente has given Doctors Medical Center more than $20 million since 2006, while John Muir Health has provided $4 million since 2008, according to "Bay Area BizTalk." However, the health systems said they would not provide additional funding without a feasible, long-term sustainability strategy.
In mid-August, the cash-strapped hospital stopped accepting new ED patients by ambulance (Rauber, "Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 11/4).
In September, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill (SB 883) that allocates $3 million to Doctors Medical Center to delay closure. Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland), who pushed for the law along with state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), said the funding should enable the hospital to remain open through January 2015 or February 2015 (California Healthline, 10/3).
Details of New Plan
Doctors' new plan would require:
- A new parcel tax to raise $5 million to $8 million annually, beginning in December 2015;
- Contra Costa County to forgive $3 million annually in parcel tax advances;
- Continued operational efficiencies that would save $3 million to $5 million annually;
- Payroll and benefit reductions to save $4.7 million to $7 million annually;
- Richmond to provide $5 million annually in community benefit funds from Chevron for three years;
- Unnamed local hospitals to provide annual support of $1 million to $4.3 million; and
- Up to $1.5 million in annual corporate or community contributions.
Chuck Finnie, a spokesperson for Doctors Medical Center, acknowledged that groups did not want "to contribute money to an unsustainable cause." However, he said the situation has changed and that county officials, organizations and residents understand that the safety-net hospital is in danger of closure or significant reductions in services.
The Hospital Council of Northern and Central California -- which has been working with local hospitals and policymakers to find a way to save some services at Doctors Medical Center -- was blindsided by the new plan, according to "Bay Area BizTalk."
Rebecca Rozen, an East Bay regional vice president at the Hospital Council, said, "We were a little bit taken aback," adding that the proposal "was developed without all the parties at the table and needs to be examined in detail."
Rozen said that the hospital group continues to believe that the best plan still would be to significantly downsize the facility into a smaller, less costly urgent care center.
Meanwhile, Eric Zell, chair of the West Contra Costa County Healthcare District's board of directors, in a statement said the new plan could work "but only with shared commitment and sacrifice" ("Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Journal, 11/4).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.