Hospital News Roundup for July 20
Children's Hospital Oakland has proposed a parcel tax in Alameda County to raise $300 million over 30 years to fund construction of a new facility that complies with state seismic safety standards, the Oakland Tribune reports. The hospital hopes to place the proposal on the February 2008 ballot.
Under the proposal, the county would borrow $300 million to give to the hospital upfront and would use revenue from a new parcel tax to pay off the loan over three decades. The hospital would pay the remaining costs with philanthropic contributions.
County supervisors are questioning whether a private hospital should receive public funds. Supervisors also are concerned about whether the county can maintain good credit if it borrows funds for Children's on top of a planned $600 million loan to rebuild the county-run Highland Hospital (Oakley, Oakland Tribune, 7/13).
Doctors Medical Center officials last week voted to approve a business plan designed to bring the hospital out of bankruptcy and maintain operations, the East Bay Business Times reports.
The plan requires $5 million in short-term funding by August, and a total of $20 million over the next 14 months. However, officials are unsure whether the facility will obtain the funds.
Under the plan, the hospital would generate $46.9 million in savings by 2010 and seek higher payments from insurers and savings in labor costs, as well as investments in the hospital's profitable services, including cancer and possibly cardiac surgery (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 7/13).
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital has proposed expanding its services to meet the demands of a growing population in the region, the Los Angeles Times reports. The not-for-profit facility is the only local hospital.
The proposed plan would include:
- Four multilevel parking structures with two helipads;
- Three medical office buildings; and
- A five-story inpatient tower with 120 patient beds.
Hospital officials, city staff and residents are debating the impact of the expansion project. A decision might not come for months, according to the Times (Simmons, Los Angeles Times, 7/16).
The John Muir Health Foundation is launching its first-ever capital campaign to raise $40 million to help pay for a $621 million expansion of the hospital, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The campaign seeks to raise the funds by December 2008. Other funding sources for the expansion include bonds, reserves and money raised through a leadership campaign that began more than two years ago.
The expansion is scheduled to be completed by 2011, including an emergency department that will increase capacity from one trauma room and 22 beds to four trauma rooms and 44 beds (Harrington, Oakland Tribune, 7/19).
Union leaders and San Francisco elected officials are accusing Sutter Health of planning to close St. Luke's Hospital, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Sal Rosselli, president of the Service Employees International Union-United Workers West unit, said the union over the last few years has claimed that Sutter will close the hospital once a five-year agreement ends that guaranteed the hospital would remain an acute-care facility.
The agreement, which ended last year, was part of a deal brokered in 2001 by California's attorney general.
Kevin McCormack, a Sutter spokesperson, said, "Our intention is to keep the hospital open." He added, "It would not make any sense for us to take St. Luke's into our family of campuses if we want to shut it down" (Raine, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/14).
Sequoia Hospital is proposing a $240 million construction project that would retrofit the facility and add a new pavilion and parking garage, according to a planner, the San Francisco Examiner reports.
The project is intended to help the hospital meet the state's new seismic safety standards by 2013. The proposal also calls for demolishing the campus' skilled-nursing facility and building a new medical office building.
The Redwood City Council on July 23 is scheduled to study the project and vote on the plans on Aug. 27. If approved, the hospital renovations could be complete by 2011, and all other projects by 2012, according to a spokesperson (Winegarner, San Francisco Examiner, 7/19).
Sharp HealthCare nurses represented by United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals on Thursday voted to approve a three-year contract agreement with the hospital chain, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Union spokesperson Laureen Lazarovici said that the agreement will increase nurse wages by about 18% over the term of the contract and boost Sharp's contributions to nurses' 401(k) retirement accounts.
The contract does not require all nurses at the hospital to join the union, a provision that unions had sought (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/20).
ValleyCare Health System and UC-San Francisco are collaborating to add about a dozen faculty members to provide specialized pediatrics services at ValleyCare Medical Center, the Oakland Tribune reports.
Sam Hawgood -- physician-in-chief of UCSF Children's Hospital and chair of the university's pediatrics department -- said the hospital over the next nine months will add physicians who treat the lungs, digestive system and brain, among other specialties.
UCSF also will provide staff for a clinic for pregnant women that will offer genetic screening and treatment for complex pregnancies (Kazmi, Oakland Tribune, 7/13).