KAISER: TO SEND ACUTE-CARE PATIENTS TO A PRIVATE HOSPITAL
Kaiser Permanente announced late last week that beginning inThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
mid-1997 it will send its "sickest patients in Southern
California to a Catholic-owned private hospital," St. Vincent
Medical Center, rather than its "flagship Sunset Boulevard
medical center." LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that the Sunset
Boulevard hospital -- Kaiser's main acute-care facility in
Southern California -- will eventually be closed. The Sunset
Boulevard site will continue to provide non-hospital services
such as outpatient surgery and physician office visits. The move
"is Kaiser's most aggressive yet to cope with cutthroat
competition in Southern California by reorganizing a sprawling
health care system that serves more than 2 million members in the
region," according to the TIMES.
WIN/WIN: Executives said that Kaiser's Sunset facility and
St. Vincent's, owned by San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare
West, "are both underused, with more than half of their beds
empty on the average day." Kaiser also said that the Sunset
hospital needs expensive renovations to meet earthquake safety
requirements. "St. Vincent has organ transplant, cardiac surgery
and cardiac catheterization programs," said Kaiser Executive Vice
President Hugh Jones. He said, "It's a fortuitous blending of
our needs for resources and their availability." Kaiser
enrollees will still be treated by Kaiser doctors at the St.
MORE: In related news, Kaiser announced that "it has agreed
to turn over its empty Baldwin Park Medical Center to Catholic
Healthcare." The hospital, which was completed several years ago
and "touted by Kaiser as its 'hospital of the future,'" was never
opened because of slow Kaiser membership growth in the area.
Catholic Healthcare is expected to open the facility by early
1998. Catholic Healthcare said that the hospital will treat
"both Kaiser members and other patients" (Olmos, 11/22).