Santa Clara County May Block Plans To Move Trauma Center
Santa Clara County officials could prevent a proposal to move a trauma center from San Jose Medical Center to Regional Medical Center of San Jose, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Bob Sillen, executive director of the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, said the county could delay or block such a transfer to ensure that the relocated center would meet trauma center regulations (Lynch, San Jose Mercury News , 9/14).
Last week Nashville-based hospital chain HCA Healthcare announced plans to close SJMC Dec. 9 because of higher costs from declining Medicare and Medi-Cal reimbursements, new state seismic retrofit regulations and new state nurse-to-patient ratio rules implemented in January. HCA also owns Regional (California Healthline, 9/9).
Sillen said he is waiting to ensure that HCA's plan complies with trauma center regulations before approving it.
James Hinsdale, chief of trauma services at San Jose Medical Center, said that a letter of intent to move the trauma center to Regional Medical has been sent to the county and that a complete plan will be ready in one week, the Mercury News reports.
Sillen also said that the county may need only two trauma centers, the number it would have if the SJMC center did not reopen. Trauma centers in Santa Clara County treat 2,500 to 3,000 patients annually.
If plans to open a trauma center at Regional Medical are rejected, the two remaining centers, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose and Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, might have to turn away patients from counties with no trauma centers.
About 200 to 300 patients from other counties also receive treatment at trauma centers in Santa Clara County. Sillen said eliminating one of the trauma centers could mean that surrounding counties might have to transport trauma patients to other facilities (Lynch, San Jose Mercury News , 9/14).
Chris Leventon, Monterey County emergency medical services administrator, said Monterey County would consider the closure of SJMC as they work on a plan on the treatment and placement of trauma patients.
Chad Chadwick, CEO of Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, said, "Certainly a closure of a hospital is always a negative from our point of view," adding, "It puts pressure on other hospitals and everyone else" (Parsons, Monterey County Herald, 9/12).
"Our first responsibility is to" Santa Clara County, Sillen said (Lynch, San Jose Mercury News , 9/14).
In related news, the San Jose Mercury News on Monday looked at the effect that financial pressure on hospitals could have on health care in San Jose. "Unlike almost every other hospital from San Francisco to Oakland to Gilroy," three of the six hospitals in San Jose are owned by for-profit companies, the Mercury News reports.
Joanne Spetz, a health care analyst at the University of California-San Francisco, said, "San Jose is more of a for-profit market," adding, "Owners of hospitals in San Jose may be less willing to take financial hits" (Lynch, San Jose Mercury News , 9/13).