Five Counties Act on Health Care-Related Issues
Contra Costa County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a $20 million proposal to restore full service to the emergency department at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The hospital's board last month filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection and laid off 300 employees.
Under the approved plan, the hospital will receive $10 million from the county reserve fund, plus $10 million in federal Medicaid funds distributed by the state to fund salaries and other operating expenses.
Hospital officials said that without the plan, there was only enough money to maintain hospital services through November.
Only the ED will return to full service under the plan, while other recent cuts will remain, including most of the 300 layoffs, elimination of the obstetrics and burn units, and closure of the hospital's Pinole campus (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/1).
Fresno County supervisors on Tuesday agreed to several new methods for recruiting and maintaining jail medical staff, the Fresno Bee reports.
County officials agreed to consider increasing the salaries for several positions and expanding recruitment to a national level. The county is currently hiring temporary employees and paying overtime to keep shifts filled. When medical staffers are unavailable, correctional officers must oversee the medical care of inmates.
A county official said that it is difficult to compete with the state for applicants because the state offers higher salaries and more perks (Ginis, Fresno Bee, 11/1).
The Kern County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to extend a contract until the end of December with Group Administrative Practice Strategies, which manages the bariatric surgery program at Kern Medical Center, the Bakersfield Californian reports. The company is owned by two physicians at the medical center (Burger, Bakersfield Californian, 10/31).
Also on Tuesday, the board asked its chief attorney whether it could authorize an audit of the First 5 Kern commission in response to a recent article that exposed misuse of funds, the Bakersfield Californian reports.
The county in 1998 established First 5 Kern to distribute money generated from a state tobacco tax. Funds are awarded to children's health and education programs.
The county plans to investigate a $3 million contract between First 5 and Applied Research Center, whose duty was to evaluate whether First 5-funded programs were improving children's lives.
All board members expressed concern over the program's spending (Burger, Bakersfield Californian, 10/31).
Physicians and insurance executives on Monday attended an Orange County Supervisors meeting to express concern about several hospitals that were purchased by Prem Reddy, CEO of Prime Healthcare Services, the Orange County Register reports. The meeting was called by a supervisor in response to community concerns about Reddy's practices.
Reddy recently bought the West Anaheim Medical Center, Hungtington Beach Hospital and La Palma Intercommunity Hospital. After purchasing each facility, Reddy canceled managed care contracts and stopped transferring ED patients to hospitals that accept their insurance.
Through these practices, Reddy can charge insurance companies more than if he contracted with them at discounted rates, according to the Register.
Reddy defended his actions at the meeting, saying that his EDs can efficiently treat more uninsured patients than ever (Perkes, Orange County Register, 10/31).
San Joaquin County officials and officials representing the Service Employees International Union Local 790 remained in contract negotiations Tuesday, with the extension set to expire at midnight, the Modesto Bee reports. The union represents 5,300 county employees.
The union has been working to negotiate a contract with the county since December 2005. The original contract ended in June. Both sides continue to disagree over changes in health benefits that could increase deductibles and add copayments for workers. The union also disagrees over the retiree benefits.
The contract between the county and the California Nurses Association's contract also expired Tuesday night (Miller, Modesto Bee, 11/1).
Both CNA and SEIU have threatened to strike if a deal is not reached (Stockton Record, 11/1).