Riverside Hospital Dropped from Medicare and Medi-Cal, Closes Emergency Room
Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside closed its emergency room Monday night after state regulators said the hospital could not participate in Medicare or Medi-Cal, the hospital's "largest income source," the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. Federal and state officials who inspected the hospital in late January identified problems with pharmacy services, nursing services, medical staff and quality assurance. Federal officials told the hospital in January that it had until Monday to correct the most serious of the problems. Cindy Graunke, acting associate administrator for CMS in San Francisco, did not specify the hospital's deficiencies, but she said she was not aware of any patients who had died or been harmed as a result of care at the facility. In addition to suspending Medicare and Medi-Cal funding -- which has happened at only three hospitals in California since 1995 -- state officials said Monday that Parkview's hospital license "may be at risk" if the facility does not fix its problems soon. Being dropped from Medicare and Medi-Cal could also "jeopardize the hospital's ability to remain open" and may "force it to scale back its operations," the Press-Enterprise reports. Of more than 9,400 patients discharged from the hospital in 2000, almost 6,000 were covered by Medicare or Medi-Cal, according to state records. Vern Hall, chair of Parkview's board, said that the loss of the programs will "devastate" hospital finances. The hospital, which has 30 days to transfer or finish treating Medicare and Medi-Cal patients, may ask for a court order allowing the facility to continue participating in the programs, Hall said (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/5).
While Parkview's emergency room was open to "a smattering of walk-in patients" yesterday, Riverside County health officials told ambulance companies and paramedics to take emergency patients to other facilities. At a meeting of the Riverside City Council yesterday, 40 people protested the state's actions. Council members voted 7-0 in favor of a resolution designating the hospital an "essential health care provider" in the city and pledging to contact county, state and federal lawmakers for help with the situation. In addition, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors appointed a committee to examine the short- and long-term effects of the emergency room closure on the region's health system (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/6). The hospital can reapply for participation in Medicare and Medi-Cal once it corrects its patient-care problems (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/5). Dr. Robert Barton, who practices at Parkview, said, "It's a good little hospital. There are some administrative problems, but who doesn't have that? The penalty that was instituted is disproportionate to what's going on" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/6).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.