Mount Diablo Maternity Ward Closes
Mount Diablo Medical Center's maternity ward, the only birth center in Concord, closed yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In June, the John Muir/Mount Diablo Health System board voted to close the unit because of its annual losses, including $4 million last year (Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/30). The financial losses are mostly a result of low patient volumes, the Contra Costa Times reports. Last year, about 800 babies were born at Mount Diablo, compared with 3,000 at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, which merged with Mount Diablo in 1996. The Mount Diablo Health Care District board had sued to keep the birth unit open, but a court decision last week ordered the center to close on Monday. The district said it intends to fight the court's decision, board Chair Grace Ellis said (Krishnan, Contra Costa Times, 10/30). The Court of Appeals in San Francisco is reviewing whether the "appropriate legal standard" was used to close the ward; its decision may not come until early next year. Mount Diablo supporters have said that the birth unit's closure "will ultimately lead to the death of the Concord hospital by choking off its supply of new patients." However, Steven Bauer, an attorney for John Muir/Mount Diablo, said, "We have no plans to close Mount Diablo Hospital" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/30). Mount Diablo will continue to admit pregnant women with emergencies, but other deliveries will be diverted to John Muir (Contra Costa Times, 10/30).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.