FRESNO COUNTY: Mental Health Merger May Lead to Layoffs
Fresno County may lay off at least 102 full-time equivalent county employees if Community Medical Centers takes over of some of the county's psychiatric services, the Fresno Bee reports. Today, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will discuss Community's updated and detailed proposal for taking control of the county's inpatient Psychiatric Health Facility, the outpatient Psychiatric Assessment Center for Treatment, the outpatient Emergency Center for Treatment and the outpatient Emergency Psychiatric services by next July, as well as the implications for job loss. The proposal "has been highly criticized" by health care advocates, labor unions and several county board members who said they were "blindsided" by the plan, which was unveiled at a board meeting on Sept. 19. The proposal lacks details on financial amounts, but includes a provision specifying that the county would quickly assist Community in becoming a "special psychiatric Medi-Cal hospital" in order to improve Medi-Cal reimbursement. Reacting to the proposed layoffs, Don Nielsen of the California Nurses Association said, "I think it's terrible" and called the move a "tragedy in the lives of employees it will affect." He is concerned that unions have not been included in the discussions. Although Community said there is a possibility of rehiring workers, Nielsen expressed his doubt by pointing out that the hospital did not recognize the unions representing the employees at a former county-operated hospital that Community merged with four years ago. But Berj Apkarian, director of medical education and behavioral-health services at Community, said that if the proposal is passed, Community will encourage the majority of county workers to apply for the new positions, just as it did in its previous merger (Correa, Fresno Bee, 9/30).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.