Simi Valley Hospital Board Votes Not To Renew Emergency Room Physicians’ Contract
The governing board of Simi Valley Hospital last week voted 16-0 not to renew the 197-bed hospital's relationship with nine emergency room physicians, whose contract expired in April, the Ventura County Star reports. The physicians were asked to stay for 30 days to prevent problems with the transition to new providers, according to one hospital physician; Simi Valley's President and CEO Margaret Peterson said it is "too early to say who would be hired in the emergency room." She declined to say why the board voted not to renew the doctors' contract but said that members believed the decision was "the best direction for the future of the hospital." She added that no other clinicians would lose their jobs and that the hospital would not close its ER.
A Simi Valley doctor who asked not to be identified last week said that the physicians were "being made scapegoats" for federal and state investigations into the hospital's transfer policy for psychiatric patients, the Star reports. Lana Pimbley, district manager for the Department of Health Services Licensing, confirmed that the hospital had received a federal complaint and said that "part of [the decision not to renew the doctors' contract] is about that complaint" (Miller/Klampe, Ventura County Star, 9/26). In its investigation of the complaint, the Department of Health Services found that Simi Valley refused to admit six uninsured psychiatric patients who needed treatment "to stabilize their emergency medical conditions," even though the hospital had beds available, the Star reports. Simi Valley, which has submitted a plan of correction, is required to treat any patient "within the scope of its services" under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, according to the Star (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 9/27).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.