Judge Denies Request To Stop Cutbacks at High Desert Hospital
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper this week denied Antelope Valley Hospital's request for a temporary restraining order that would have stopped the conversion of Lancaster's High Desert Hospital into an ambulatory care clinic, the Los Angeles Times reports (Fausset, Los Angeles Times, 6/12). Antelope Valley last week filed the federal lawsuit, saying that the High Desert conversion could force Antelope Valley to cut staff and services to remain viable (California Healthline, 6/4). Antelope Valley officials said that closing High Desert's 70 hospital beds and using that hospital for less serious medical problems would increase the number of uninsured patients at Antelope Valley, which they said is already so overcrowded that some patients must wait up to four days for a bed. However, the conversion could save the county $10 million a year and increase the number of annual outpatient visits from 43,000 to 67,000, county attorneys said. In her ruling, Cooper questioned Antelope Valley's legal right to request the restraining order and said that Antelope Valley did not show the potential for "irreparable harm" by the conversion. John Wallace, a county Department of Health Services spokesperson, said that inpatient admissions at High Desert have stopped and that the 24 remaining long-term patients will be transferred to other hospitals in the next two weeks. The new ambulatory clinic will open July 1, county officials said (Los Angeles Times, 6/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.