SILICON VALLEY: El Camino Wards Off Potential Suitors
In an environment of ever-increasing hospital consolidation, El Camino Hospital officials are telling potential suitors to stay away, backing up their message with support for legislation that would require voter approval of any change in the facility's ownership. The San Jose Business Journal reports that the Mountain View facility is "one of the last stand-alone hospitals in Silicon Valley" and has many wondering how long it can survive "in this climate of reduced insurance payments and increased costs." But hospital officials contend that "[b]igger is not always better," pointing to the "disastrous" events of 1992, when the hospital district board transferred the hospital to the nonprofit Camino Medical Group and subsequently "racked up $25 million in losses" before the board regained control of El Camino in 1996. Hoping to ward off action of this type in the future, hospital officials have lined up behind state Sen. Byron Sher's (D-Stanford) SB 819, which would close a loophole allowing El Camino to change hands without voter approval. Wanda Jones of New Century Healthcare Institute, however, questions whether district hospitals can survive, as capped property taxes have left many "strapped for cash." The Business Journal reports that most of El Camino's competitors in the area are members of "large health care conglomerates," such as Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Tenet Healthcare Corp., Kaiser Permanente or Catholic Healthcare West (Delevett, 3/29 issue).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.