MOUNT ZION: Emergency Unit May Close Within a Month
Mount Zion's emergency room may close as early as Nov. 23 as the hospital's ER physicians announced this week they are "unwilling to remain on the job beyond the expiration date of their contract." Parent company UCSF Stanford Health Care, which decided Sept. 23 to shut down the unit and turn the hospital into a daytime outpatient clinic, hopes to keep emergency services available through Dec. 23 in order to comply with state law requiring hospitals to provide 90 days' advance notice of reductions in medical services, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. But doctors, who must give only 30 days notice under their contracts, said they need to consider other job offers. Said emergency department chief Dr. Laurel Hodgson, "My docs have held on here through all the months of uncertainty. But they need to make commitments to other jobs. They have mortgages to pay." Admitting it "will be difficult" to staff the hospital in the intervening month because ER doctors are a "highly trained, certified group of people that are hard to come by," Dr. Brian Goodell, UCSF-Stanford interim chief administrative officer, said the organization will try to draw staff from other hospitals it owns and hire "freelance substitute physicians to fill the gap." He noted, "Closing down service is a unique and risky business," adding, "This is a work in progress." Goodell maintained, however, that the unit will not remain open "with less than fully qualified doctors." The hospital's fully-staffed emergency department requires nine doctors and 20 additional nurses and support personnel (Russell, 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.