Hospital Funding, Contract Issues Examined
California Healthline highlights recent hospital news, including funding and contract developments. Summaries appear below.
The Tri-Valley Oncology Center at ValleyCare Medical Center in Pleasanton is expected to close on July 1, and plans to open a new treatment center at another Pleasanton location are behind schedule because of a disagreement between ValleyCare and the physicians operating the existing facility, the Oakland Tribune reports.
According to ValleyCare CFO Ken Jensen, the provider could guarantee a loan for the new cancer center but wants to ensure it has a partner with a long-term financial commitment to operating it (Carter, Oakland Tribune, 6/9).
Tulare District Hospital trustees on Wednesday approved plans to place an $85 million general obligation bond on the ballot in a September special election, the Fresno Bee reports. The bond would be used to help fund a $100 million project to remodel the facility's emergency department and add 12 beds to the ED and six to eight beds to the maternity ward.
The remaining $15 million needed for the plan likely will come out of the hospital's reserve, officials said (Avalos, Fresno Bee, 6/9).
About 1,300 Taft voters in a special election on Tuesday rejected a measure to provide funds for an urgent care facility, the Bakersfield Californian reports.
Westside Health Care Board President Chuck Hagstrom said the measure would have imposed a $75 annual tax on improved land for the next decade, adding that the facility likely will close in the next one to two months.
The facility, which is open until 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends, is the only health care facility in Taft open beyond standard business hours (Sosa, Bakersfield Californian, 6/7).
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center is moving its geriatric psychiatry and oncology wards from its Oakland campus, medical center officials announced Monday, the Oakland Tribune reports (McDonough, Oakland Tribune, 6/7). The hospital will close the existing units because of a decrease in patient volume, but the units could be reopened if patient loads increase, according to Albert Sebilia, the hospital's administrative director of nursing (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 6/7).
The geriatric psychiatry ward will be consolidated with a similar, 105-bed unit at the medical center's Herrick Campus in Berkley. The oncology unit will be moved from the second floor of the hospital's main building to the fifth floor, which it will share with the orthopedic unit.
Carolyn Kemp, a spokesperson for the medical center, said the moves will allow the units to share resources, such as janitorial services and utilities (Oakland Tribune, 6/7).
The Loma Linda Historical Commission on Monday endorsed architectural plans for a proposed 29-bed California Heart and Surgical Hospital in northeast Loma Linda, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. However, commissioners said designer William Arsenault needs to clarify details of any future plans for possibly expanding the building, which will house a cardiac specialty hospital (Santschi, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/7).
Children's Hospital Oakland officials last week said new contract agreements have been reached with about 30 insurance carriers and medical groups, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Stewart, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/4).
Last month officials warned families that contract disputes over reimbursement rates could require them to pay cash for service or find alternative care (California Healthline, 5/17).
Hospital executives say the new contracts cover all but about 12 patients and executives will work to provide treatment for those patients on a case-by-case basis (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/4).
Corcoran residents on Tuesday approved an $18 million bond measure to build a new hospital that will comply with state seismic safety standards and replace the current Corcoran District Hospital building, the Fresno Bee reports. The bond, which passed by 87%, will cost the average homeowner about $33 per year in property taxes, according to the Bee (Jimenez, Fresno Bee, 6/9).
A coalition of activists and residents on Saturday called for the Long Beach City Council to delay its vote on the expansion of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center until concerns about the demolition of affordable housing and neighborhood exposure to toxic substances are addressed, the Los Angeles Times reports. The council vote, which is the last approval needed to begin the 15-year expansion plan, was scheduled for Tuesday. The plan calls for a new Miller Children's Hospital inpatient tower with 48 additional neonatal intensive care beds and 24 general pediatric beds.
Hospital and city officials said that if demolition of housing units in the area is necessary, it would not take place for at least three years and that residents who would be required to move would receive relocation-assistance funds (Stewart, Los Angeles Times, 6/5).
Voters on Tuesday defeated a tax measure that would have imposed a $96 per parcel tax to benefit the Mendocino Coast District Hospital, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The measure received 54% of the vote but needed a two-thirds majority to pass.
Prior to Tuesday's vote, hospital trustee James Hay had said the hospital would have to sharply cut services to control costs if the measure failed (Geniella, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/8).
Natividad Medical Center officials said they expect the hospital to end the current fiscal year with about $5.4 million in surplus funds, although it likely will face a $7.4 million deficit in FY 2005-2006, the Monterey County Herald reports.
Natividad administrators said they will try to offset the cost of caring for uninsured patients with new medical services to attract more insured patients (Livernois, Monterey County Herald, 6/5).
Officials from Palmdale and Universal Health Services last week held a groundbreaking ceremony for a planned $82-million, full-service hospital, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The hospital is expected to take about 18 months to complete (Skeen, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/3).
Antelope Valley Hospital last week offered the city of Palmdale $9.3 million for the land. Palmdale officials said they are not interested in selling the land, which the city acquired for $5.2 million (California Healthline, 6/3).
Health care district officials said they are concerned that a private hospital would draw more insured patients and leave AVH with a higher proportion of the uninsured. Officials have said they are considering using the district's power of eminent domain to acquire the Palmdale site (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/3).