Northridge Hospital Medical Center Campus To Close
Northridge Hospital Medical Center on Thursday announced that it is closing its Sherman Way campus, making it the sixth and largest emergency department scheduled for closure in Los Angeles County in the past 14 months, the Los Angeles Times reports. Of the 75,000 patients served annually by the six EDs slated for closure, the Sherman Way ED served nearly 26,000. Northridge officials said the closure is necessary because the facility has incurred "substantial financial losses," partly because of a reduction in reimbursements for the care of uninsured patients, the Times reports.
"I don't think there's any end to the closures as long as there's no solution to the uninsured and hospitals treating people without getting paid," Peter Warren of the California Medical Association said. Other factors that have "pushed many hospitals over the edge" include new state nurse-to-patient ratio rules that have required hospitals to expand their staffs and an impending state deadline for meeting new seismic retrofit regulations, according to the Times. Health officials say that the closures have caused a "crisis" in emergency services in the county and that the problem has "spread throughout California," the Times reports. The state has had 65 ED closures in the past 10 years, despite population growth.
Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn asked city council members and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to discuss ways the city or the federal government might be able to prevent the closure of the Sherman Way campus, according to Deputy Mayor Renata Simril. She added that officials are considering using city earthquake repair funds or nurse-retention programs to keep the facility open.
County Supervisor Mike Antonovich has asked the state to cut back on hospital regulations without providing additional funding to implement the regulations, the Times reports.
Northridge Hospital plans to transfer many of its Sherman Way campus patients to Valley Presbyterian Hospital, which is located fewer than two miles from the facility. Valley Presbyterian CEO Robert Bills said the hospital anticipates increasing its number of licensed beds from 290 to 380 in coming months. Bills said, "We know we're going to be able to absorb the additional volume" because the facility already has "excess capacity."
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "The sad and incontrovertible fact is that throughout our region, hospital and emergency room capacity is plummeting, and the absorption capacity of the rest of the system is being taxed beyond its limits."
According to the Times, the issue will "come before voters on the November ballot" when they will be presented with an initiative to provide additional funds for emergency care. Proposition 67 would impose a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund EDs, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment.
If approved, Proposition 67 could raise about $150 million per year for facilities in Los Angeles County, according to Warren (Felch, Los Angeles Times, 8/20). Statewide, the measure would generate an estimated $550 million annually (California Healthline, 8/16).
The ballot title and summary for Proposition 67 is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the summary.