Hospital News Roundup for June 29
Board members on Tuesday approved a $460 million budget for Alameda County Medical Center that includes job cuts, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The budget would eliminate 21 positions from the medical center's hospitals in Oakland and San Leandro; outpatient clinics in Newark, Hayward and Oakland; and the county psychiatric center.
The budget also provides for more nurses to meet state nurse-patient ratios, as well as the hiring of more administrative staff. Medical center CEO Geoff Dottery said the cuts will not affect patient care and have not yet been finalized (Woodall, Oakland Tribune, 6/28).
Sequoia Community Health Centers will use an increase of about $3.1 million in grants and federal funding this year to add more services, the Fresno Bee reports.
Sequoia will use the additional $1.2 million in federal funding and $1.9 million in grant money to:
- Add an eighth clinic site at the former Sierra campus of Community Medical Centers;
- Build its first dental facility;
- Add services for the homeless; and
- Expand clinic hours (Correa, Fresno Bee, 6/23).
St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital on Saturday expects to open its new $16 million emergency department, the Ventura County Star reports.
Rita O'Connor, spokesperson for the hospital, said officials expect approvals on Friday from the Department of Health Services and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
The expanded ED will increase the amount of beds from six to 14. Hospital officials said the additional space will reduce wait times and diversions to other hospitals (Ventura County Star, 6/26).
St. John's Regional Medical Center on Wednesday won approval from its parent company to temporarily close the hospital for 10 days to fumigate for mold, the Ventura County Star reports.
Under the plan, the 265-bed hospital would close Aug. 14, and its emergency department would close Aug. 8. Patients would be diverted to other hospitals in the county.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation also has to approve the fumigation plan, according to a spokesperson (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 6/28).
Valley Health System trustees on Monday unanimously voted to sell all of the district's hospitals to Select HealthCare Solutions of Del Mar for about $135 million, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Voters must approve the sale within 120 days because the deal involves more than 50% of the district's assets. The deal includes a $7.5 million nonrefundable deposit to the district, regardless of the outcome of the vote.
The hospital district last year failed to pass a $485 million bond that would have increased finances to upgrade hospitals and provide $80 million to refinance existing debt (Atienza, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/27).
The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indian tribe has pledged to donate $700,000 to the Community Medical Center-Oakhurst as part of an agreement between the tribe and Madera County over casino expansion, the Fresno Bee reports.
The donation will be used for mammography and X-ray equipment and to upgrade the health center building. The Community Medical Foundation, which operates the facility, expects to use the funding to help expand to a 24-hour urgent-care facility.
The donation is part of the first of 11 annual $1 million public service contributions from the tribe to benefit residents of Madera County under the casino expansion agreement (McCarthy, Fresno Bee, 6/22).
Community Memorial Hospital is investigating whether a former administrator violated federal tax law by using hospital funds to provide some physicians with electronic equipment, the Ventura County Star reports.
Officials last week filed a public record with the Internal Revenue Service stating that they had found "various items of a questionable nature" involving former administrator Michael Bakst. Officials are trying to determine whether the expenses violated tax law governing "excess-benefit transactions."
Most of the items are related to hospital reimbursements for business expenses -- including gifts to medical staff -- that Bakst claimed, according to the document (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 6/27).
Kaiser Permanente on Tuesday submitted a proposal to the Modesto City Council that would revise an agreement with the city involving the development of a new hospital, the Modesto Bee reports.
Kaiser is proposing to transfer MRI and computer tomography scanning services from clinics in Modesto to the new hospital. The HMO within two months wants to begin providing advanced radiology scans to patients at the hospital.
Construction on the first phase of the facility is almost complete, but the 225-bed hospital will not admit acute-care patients until fall of 2008, according to officials (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 6/25).
Public transportation services in Martinez will not expand as Kaiser Permanente Medical Center transfers some services to facilities in Walnut Creek and Antioch, according to Kaiser and city officials, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Kaiser and transit officials said they will monitor the demand for more bus service as the transfers occur and will reconsider adding new routes if necessary.
The HMO between July and November plans to relocate several specialty services from Martinez to Walnut Creek and Antioch in an effort to balance resources for all patients in the region. Kaiser officials said the changes will not affect 90% of the region's members (Samaniego, Contra Costa Times, 6/28).
The National Cancer Institute has renewed the "comprehensive centers" status of the Moores UC-San Diego Cancer Center, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The facility is one of 40 in the U.S. with the designation.
The renewal includes $21 million to be distributed over the next five years. The funds will be spent on personnel and equipment to run 10 programs at the center, including:
- A DNA sequencing lab;
- Electron microscopy services; and
- An office to coordinate clinical trials (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/25).
Palo Verde Hospital officials are asking Riverside County to take over the hospital, which continues to lose money and could face closure, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The hospital administration and physicians are in disputes over contracts, physician autonomy, patient-care practices and other issues, according to the Press-Enterprise.
County officials said they would consider taking over the hospital only as a last resort (Olson, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/23).
The parent company of Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is in discussions to purchase property in Santa Clarita for a new hospital, outpatient and medical office, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Providence Health and Services plans to build a 200-bed hospital, with costs estimated at about $1.5 million per bed, according to Kerry Carmody, an administrator for the hospital.
It takes a minimum of six to eight years to open a new hospital, Carmody said. He added that by 2010 or 2015, the number of acute-care patients in Santa Clarita will justify the new hospital (O'Rourke, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/23).
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to close one of two long-term care wards in San Mateo Medical Center, the Oakland Tribune reports.
Hospital officials estimate that closing the ward will save $1 million. The facility faces growing debt as rises in costs continue to exceed increases in state and federal funding.
Many patients who would have stayed in the ward will be transferred to nearby Burlingame Long Term Care, which is operated by the hospital. Sicker patients or those who refuse to leave will be transferred to the hospital's remaining long-term care unit, according to Sang-ick Chang, interim CEO of the hospital (Gordon, Oakland Tribune, 6/26).