VENTURA COUNTY: Community Memorial Staging ‘Hostile Takeover’
Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) is staging a "hostile takeover" of Ventura County's health care system, county Supervisor John Flynn charged this week. According to Flynn, a CMH plan to sponsor a November ballot initiative that would give all of the county's $260-million tobacco settlement to seven private hospitals, combined with the hospital's offer to jointly run with the county a new east Ventura facility, "will push the Board of Supervisors to merge the county hospital with its private rival," a long-time goal of CMH. "[T]hey've got a gun to the county's head. They perceive they have that leverage," Flynn said, noting that he will schedule a hearing later this month to discuss the issue. However, CMH Executive Director Michael Bakst dismissed the accusation, saying, "There could be nothing further from the truth. If [Flynn] has any proof, I'd like to see it. It's not our intent or desire to take over the county hospital but rather to continue to work together." The planned ballot initiative will ensure that the tobacco funds help "address the health care needs of the elderly, the working poor, the indigent and children," and is unrelated to any merger or the possibility of constructing a new hospital in east Ventura, Bakst argued. But Flynn remained doubtful, contending that the initiative and CMH'sM merger efforts are linked and called them both "tools in the money-losing hospital's plans to save itself." CMH, which is situated just two blocks away from Ventura County Medical Center, has proposed a merger for years. Most recently, in October 1998, Bakst suggested the move to save both hospitals money on earthquake readiness renovations, but county supervisors rejected the plan (Talev/Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 5/3).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.