San Fernando Valley Health Care System Faces Problems, Report Finds
The San Fernando Valley's health care system "is on the edge of collapse" because of a shortage of bed space and a growing number of uninsured patients, according to a report compiled by the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley with CEOs of eight valley hospitals, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The report notes that in the past 15 years, 12 of the Valley's 33 hospitals have closed, and more are expected to close despite growing demand. According to the Daily News, some hospitals' futures remain in jeopardy because of a number of factors, including the need for seismic upgrades to meet the state's earthquake safety standards, which are estimated to cost California hospitals $24 billion over the next five years. Other challenges facing hospitals in the San Fernando Valley include:
- A severe nursing shortage combined with new state-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios;
- A growing amount of regulatory paperwork for hospitals and increased demand for technology, despite reimbursement levels that have not increased;
- A growing demand for services from the aging population (Bartholomew/Pondel, Los Angeles Daily News, 3/17);
- A population increase of 250,000 by 2010;
- Inadequate reimbursement for both insured and uninsured patients; and
- Inefficient hospital operations because of a shortage of registered nurses, pharmacists, imaging technicians, physical and occupational therapists, laboratory technicians, billing clerks and custodians (Haynes, Los Angeles Times, 3/19).
A joint statement from the hospital CEOs who helped compile the report said, "If certain concerns aren't addressed, hospitals will be financially and physically pushed beyond a breaking point, threatening access to care for all -- insured and uninsured alike" (Los Angeles Daily News, 3/17). At a news conference Thursday, alliance President and CEO Bruce Ackerman said, "I don't want to sound like a doomsday forecaster, but after participating in this study and listening to our hospital leaders, I'm here to tell you we've got a serious problem" (Los Angeles Times, 3/19). 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.