Hospital News Roundup for June 1
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital are offering financial assistance to physicians in an effort to reduce a growing physician shortage in Monterey County, the Monterey County Herald reports.
Anthony Chavis, Community Hospital's vice president of medical affairs, said the area faces a shortage of 10 to 13 primary care physicians because of the region's high cost of living and its federal classification as a rural area, which results in lower Medicare reimbursement rates.
To help attract physicians, the hospitals offer forgivable loans to help offset practice startup costs or housing costs, Chavis said.
Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital also requires physicians in the program to sign a promissory note stating their intent to remain employed for a certain period, a spokesperson said (Agha, Monterey County Herald, 5/29).
The Dublin City Council approved Triad Partners' proposal to build a six-story, 100-bed hospital on a site where the group has built two medical office buildings, the East Bay Business Times reports. Triad has yet to determine what type of hospital it will construct.
Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart said the facility might be a specialty acute care hospital with an emergency department. The facility would be Dublin's first hospital and ED.
Triad also could opt to build a third medical office, rather than a hospital, Lockhart said (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 5/25).
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Sacramento on Wednesday filed a response to Methodist Hospital's formal protest regarding the county's recommendation that Kaiser receive a trauma center designation, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/30).
Methodist in its protest last month said the recommendation was based on a "fundamentally flawed" analysis by a team of medical experts hired to review both hospitals' proposals for the designation (California Healthline, 5/23).
Max Villalobos, a Kaiser manager, said, "Methodist wants the county to ignore the independent evaluation by nationally recognized trauma experts who have done hundreds of these evaluations around the country."
County officials on June 5 will rule on the protest and the board of supervisors on July 24 will vote on the designation (Sacramento Business Journal, 5/30).
A Los Angeles County supervisor last week proposed mandatory customer service training for certain employees at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital following an incident last month in which neglect allegedly contributed to a patient's death, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Michael Wilson, spokesperson for the county Department of Health Services, said that all of the agency's employees already receive training but that the extra training would "reinforce the department's standard of providing timely and compassionate customer service."
Michael Henry, county human resources director, said the additional training would occur over several months and could begin as early as this summer (Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 5/26).
San Mateo County next year is expected to spend about $229 million to operate San Mateo Medical Center, a $12 million increase from last year's budget, the Oakland Tribune reports.
John Maltbie, county manager, said rising health care costs and a large volume of indigent patients have made the cost of operating the medical center unsustainable (Bishop, Oakland Tribune, 5/30).
He has proposed cutting the county's subsidy to the medical center in future years to about $35 million annually, the approximate cost of complying with a state law to care for indigent patients (Carpenter, San Francisco Examiner, 5/30).
County officials also have proposed some staff realignments aimed at improving efficiency and lowering costs (Oakland Tribune, 5/30).
Shriners Hospital for Children is expanding its research programs and patient base, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The hospital's basic research program will generate almost $2.1 million in funding from the 22-hospital Shrine network this year, a nearly threefold increase from the amount it received in 2005.
The 80-bed hospital on the UC-Davis Medical Center campus is the only facility in the network to combine in one location the groups' four specialties: burns and scars, spinal problems, orthopedics and research (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/25).
Sonoma Valley Hospital directors on Wednesday voted to pursue two separate proposals for replacing the current hospital, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.
The first proposal would construct a new facility within Sonoma's southern city limits, while the second proposal would build a facility downtown and reuse part of the existing hospital building.
The proposals follow recommendations by the Sonoma Valley Health Care Coalition that call for a 56-bed facility that includes:
- Four obstetrics beds;
- Four intensive care unit beds;
- Five operating rooms; and
- Eight emergency department beds.
Cost estimates for the new hospital range from $130 million to $135 million (Espinoza, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 5/31).
St. Luke's Hospital on Aug. 1 will close its Homestyle Midwifery service in an effort to reduce costs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
William Miller, chief medical executive at St. Luke's, said the hospital is losing money and cannot afford to maintain the service. Miller added that the volume of midwife-attended births at the hospital is not expected to change after the Homestyle service ends.
The hospital has given the owner of the program the option of remaining on staff and running a private practice (Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/29).