St. Mary’s Medical Center to Close Services
To offset some of its $8 million in operating losses from the past eight months, St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco will close its psychiatric outpatient program, a psychology clinic, a pediatric clinic and its linear accelerator, which provides radiation to cancer patients. The San Jose Mercury News reports that although these programs serve "hundreds" of patients annually, each one lost about $250,000 last fiscal year. Catholic Healthcare West's Bay region, which operates St. Mary's, said that other clinics and hospitals, such as Seton Medical Center in Daly City and St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, will be able to "absorb" the patients who used the services at St. Mary's. Hospital officials said that although the closings may be "inconvenient" for some patients, they will not result in "disruption of services." St. Mary's has already moved AIDS patients with dementia into the medical center's skilled nursing facility -- prompting complaints from St. Mary's workers that patients have "suffered as a result." The announcement of the changes "triggered" a Tuesday hearing by the San Francisco Health Commission on whether the service reductions could "harm" the city's overall health care system. At the hearing, Ray Castro, a registered nurse at St. Mary's, said of the AIDS patients, "I don't think it's fair that we're not providing the service they need just because we're losing money." By law, the hospital must notify the commission before executing service reductions, and health commissioners were "irked" that St. Mary's had not notified them of their plans. St. Mary's interim President Ken Steele said that he would "look into these complaints" and apologized for the hospital's failure to notify the commissioners (Koury, San Jose Mercury News, 3/21).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.