KAISER PERMANENTE: Agrees To Keep Panorama Hospital Open
In a complete reversal of its earlier position, Kaiser Permanente has "agreed in principle" and will decide definitively within two weeks, whether to use $68 million in federal disaster funds to rebuild Panorama City hospital. Kaiser originally planned to abandon the quake-damaged facility and channel the money to other hospitals. But Kaiser's reversal was forced by a federal spending bill provision sponsored by state Rep. Howard Berman (D- Mission Hills) "to block Kaiser from spending the money anywhere except Panorama City" (see CHL's 7/30, 6/26). Berman said he pushed the provision because Panorama's closure would jeopardize emergency care for local residents. Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinating officer Christina Lopez cautioned that "it's not a done deal," but was hopeful, saying, "I think their commitment is there. I know our commitment is there. It's the best decision for the community." A Kaiser official said the company is "very optimistic" about the plan, which would use $68 million in federal funds for the $100 million project to repair Panorama City hospital by 2007. Kaiser Spokesperson Katherine Saux said, "We've always been committed to having a strong presence in the Panorama City community." But Berman contends, "Kaiser had been seriously entertaining the idea of taking inpatient care ... and contracting it out to other hospitals." Had their earlier plan materialized, he added, "FEMA would've been helping to subsidize closing Panorama City." Kaiser plans to continue offering services at Panorama City while repairs are underway (Leeds, Los Angeles Times, 10/22).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.