Two Salinas Hospitals Preparing To Open Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units
Administrators at two Salinas hospitals are preparing to build Level III neonatal intensive care units, raising concerns about whether it is in the best interest of the community for both hospitals to open such facilities, the Monterey County Herald reports. Administrators for Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital on Tuesday announced that they are preparing to open a Level III NICU, while officials for county-operated Natividad Medical Center, which has the largest birth center in the county, said that the hospital is about to launch its own Level III NICU. The Herald reports that Level III NICUs, which are generally profitable, would help "financially troubled" Natividad. "The general rule of thumb is that you have only one of these in any community," Chad Chadwick, the administrator at Natividad, said, adding, "We're not in a situation here where we can carve up the market. And we believe that a Level III NICU is a natural extension to our strengths at Natividad." Chadwick said, "We don't begrudge Salinas Valley its business position. But we believe there should be a dialogue about where the unit should be." He added that Salinas Valley would "suffer" if there were direct competition between the two hospitals for Level III care. Dr. David Kasting, medical director of Salinas Valley's proposed NICU, said, "Ideally, there would only be one unit in the county. It could work with two, but it would be better if there's only one." He added that Salinas Valley "is in a better position" to build a Level III unit because "it has a track record of coming up with the money and the resources to build and sustain a program," the Herald reports. Salinas Valley administrators said their Level III NICU would likely open in about two to three years. Currently, infants requiring Level III care are transferred to hospitals with such facilities in San Francisco or San Jose, the Herald reports. For the first nine months of 2003, the latest period for which Natividad has information available, the hospital transferred 33 babies to Level III hospitals in San Francisco and 11 cases of women with difficult pregnancies to a Level III hospital in San Jose. Kasting said that Salinas Valley currently transfers about 25 infants born at the hospital each year to Level III facilities at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Stanford (Livernois, Monterey County Herald, 2/25).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.