Gradual Closure Begins at San Jose Regional Medical Center
Ambulances on Monday stopped taking patients to the emergency department at San Jose Medical Center and its trauma center was closed in preparation for the facility's planned closure Dec. 9, the San Jose Mercury News reports. SJMC will continue to accept walk-in patients at the ED, as well as some trauma patients, depending on the level of their injuries, until the facility officially closes at 5 p.m. Dec. 9 (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 11/30).
To help maintain services during the gradual closure, Santa Clara County emergency medical officials have positioned four additional ambulances in downtown San Jose and are observing the closure's effect on other area hospitals' EDs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services Director Bruce Lee said that the county has reduced to 90 minutes the length of time that EDs can divert ambulances because of overcrowding. In such situations, the county has reduced to one hour the time hospitals must wait after reopening EDs before they can again divert ambulances, Lee said (Gathright, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
According to the Mercury News, many services at the hospital have been shut down, and about 50 patients currently are in the hospital, compared with the general patient volume of 110 to 150 during the winter (San Jose Mercury News, 11/30).
Lee said it is unclear what effect the closure will have on area hospitals' EDs, but he added that O'Connor Hospital and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on Monday issued "yellow" advisories because of high ED volumes.
According to the Chronicle, yellow advisories are one step less than a "red" alert, which would cause county EMS to divert ambulances to other hospital EDs (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
SJMC last week sent a mailing to 27,000 households in downtown San Jose indicating that the hospital would close Dec. 9 and providing the locations of other hospitals where emergency care is available, SJMC spokesperson Leslie Kelsay said. The mailing was available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese (San Jose Mercury News, 11/30).
The closure of SJMC is "symptomatic of a national problem that is larger than just Medi-Cal reform," Sandy Perry, a member of the steering committee for the Save San Jose Medical Center Coalition, writes in a Mercury News opinion piece. According to Perry, the coalition recommends that Santa Clara County "prepare a contingency plan for a health care district in downtown and possibly East San Jose," while the San Jose City Council should "scale back" the proposed expansion of Regional Medical Center of San Jose "to a level adequate to meet the present crisis."
The coalition also recommends that San Jose "move immediately to acquire the SJMC property" and that a proposed SCVMC urgent care center to be located in downtown San Jose be a "walk-in" facility, Perry writes (Perry, San Jose Mercury News, 11/28).