KAISER PERMANENTE: Richmond Hospital Expands Services
Kaiser Permanente opened the doors Monday to a "never-used intensive care unit" and medical wing at its Richmond hospital. The Contra Costa Times reports that the opening marks a "remarkable recovery" for the hospital -- which was "once feared dead" -- as the non-trauma emergency room is expected to open within two months and the outpatient surgical suites by 2000. Dr. Timothy Batchelder, physician-in-chief of the Kaiser facility, cited "political and community concern that the closure [of the hospital] would leave west Contra Costa with too few emergency rooms," and a scuttled deal with Doctors Medical Center to treat Kaiser patients as reasons for the decision to maintain the facility. "We're not doing this to make money," said Batchelder, adding, "This is an expensive alternative for us. But we have a long history in this community, and in the end we determined it was best for us and for our members to stay." City officials have launched efforts to ensure that patients will not be deterred from the hospital because of "the perception that downtown Richmond is not a safe place." Police patrols have hit the streets on foot, bicycle and horseback in "an aggressive effort to clean up the area." In addition, a city advisory panel will bring together Kaiser administrators, county officials and community members to address residents' needs (Squatriglia, 2/7).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.