Hospital News Roundup for August 17
Kaiser Permanente officials are considering retrofitting the company's Redwood City Medical Center to meet seismic safety standards, rather than moving forward with more costly plans to build an entirely new facility, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
Kaiser in recent years has outlined plans to replace the 200-bed, 950,000-square-foot medical center with a 209-bed, 331,000-square-foot medical campus.
However, escalating construction costs have prompted officials to reconsider, according to Bob Eisenman, director of public policy for Kaiser's national facilities service unit.
Hospital construction costs in the Bay Area have increased from about $1 million per bed three years ago to about $2.5 million per bed currently, according to the Business Times (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 8/10).
Sharp Grossmont Hospital has sold more $85.6 million in bonds to help fund a construction project that will add 90 beds to its emergency department and critical care center, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Construction is slated to begin within a few months.
Additional bond sales are scheduled for 2010 or 2012.
Last year, voters in eastern San Diego County's Grossmont Healthcare District approved a $247 million bond sale (Krueger, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/13).
Seven Tulare residents last week filed a lawsuit seeking to select members of the Tulare Local Healthcare District board by neighborhood rather than in at-large elections, the Visalia Times-Delta reports.
The plaintiffs maintain that at-large elections reduce the influence of Latino voters.
Health care district officials declined to comment on the suit (Hazelwood, Visalia Times-Delta, 8/15).
United Health Centers is repaying $1.2 million in Medi-Cal overpayments stemming from billing errors dating back seven years, the Fresno Bee reports.
An error related to charges for United's pharmacy services resulted in the clinic network double-billing Medi-Cal, Department of Health Care Services officials said.
Clinic staff members reported the error to Medi-Cal in 2004, and United in November 2006 entered a repayment agreement with the state. Under the agreement, the state for the last eight months has been withholding about $9,100 per month in United's Medi-Cal payments.
It will take the clinic network 15 years to repay the debt at that rate, according to DHCS spokesperson Tony Cava.
Parlier-based United operates eight clinics in rural communities and primarily serves low-income, uninsured patients (Correa, Fresno Bee, 8/11).