NORTH VALLEY: Enloe’s Commanding Presence Worries Some
With its recent merger with former rival Chico Community Hospital complete, Enloe Medical Center "is extending its reach both within Chico and regionally as it carries out an aggressive growth strategy that it says will ensure its financial health." In addition to the Chico facility, in recent years Enloe has taken over other hospitals in Willows and Chester, the Sacramento Bee reports. Enloe officials say attracting more patients and cutting costs are moves they must make to ensure Enloe's financial health. "My agenda is simple: to operate this health system in a way that it can remain viable," said Enloe CEO Philip Wolfe. Enloe officials say "greater patient volume" will help them "keep health care costs down for local consumers," but "some within the medical community worry about Enloe's new monopoly on in-patient services in Chico, and what effect that might have on coverage options for some consumers." Dr. Walt Mazen, a gynecologist with the Sierra Valley IPA, said some people believe Enloe has become a "900-pound gorilla," even though he does not share that view. The Bee reports that some local doctors "admit they feel less secure in a one-hospital town." Dr. Tom Roth, head of the UC-Davis Medical Group in Chico, said, "Competition forces you to be honest, to sharpen your pencil. Now we're left to rely on the benevolence of the people involved." However, "most local physicians agree that Enloe's purchase of Chico Community made sense" (Layton, 11/11).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.