Santa Clara County Questions Legality of Advertisements for Trauma Services at Regional Medical Center of San Jose
Santa Clara County health officials on Thursday sent a letter to Regional Medical Center of San Jose asking the hospital to "immediately cease publicizing" its trauma services because it is illegal for a hospital that is not officially licensed as a trauma center to do so, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 10/16).
Regional Medical Center in September announced in a letter to San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales that beginning in November the hospital plans to offer restricted trauma services in an effort to reduce the impact of San Jose Medical Center's scheduled closure (California Healthline, 9/29).
To help offset the loss of SJMC's trauma center, Regional officials offered to serve "walk-in" trauma patients while it waits for county officials to approve its application to serve as a full trauma center. However, county Emergency Medical Services Administrator Bruce Lee said in his letter to Regional CEO Bill Gilbert that it is illegal for the hospital to advertise any trauma services without county permission.
Bob Sillen, executive director of the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, said that Regional "can't go out and pretend they're a trauma center when they're not a designated trauma center," adding, "It's misleading to the public."
Regional spokesperson Leslie Kelsay said, "We think the most important issue is doing everything we can to retain trauma physicians, nurses and other professionals in this community. We think the community has a right to know that we are trying to do that." She said the hospital will seek a second opinion on the legality of its actions.
In related news, county officials on Friday released a letter regarding deficiencies at SJMC's trauma center that were found during a May inspection by the American College of Surgeons. Sillen described the deficiencies as not severe and related to record-keeping.
Jim Hinsdale, the trauma medical director at SJMC, said he was surprised by the release of the letter because the deficiencies were supposed to remain confidential. He added that Sillen was politicizing the impending closing of the hospital (San Jose Mercury News, 10/16).