Doctor’s Medical Center

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Doctors Medical Center to Close in April, Barring Miracle

Stephen Scotty, who works at Doctors Medical Center's cardiac catheter lab addresses the board. (Andrew Stelzer/KQED)

Stephen Scotty, of Doctors Medical Center’s cardiac catheter lab, addressed the West Contra Costa County Healthcare District board Thursday night. (Andrew Stelzer/KQED)

By Andrew Stelzer

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo will begin shutting its doors next month, barring an angel donor who can make up the hospital’s $18 million deficit.

The West Contra Costa County healthcare district voted Thursday night to begin giving employees two-weeks notice on April 7th, meaning operations would start winding down April 21st, and continue through June.

The hospital, which serves  the largely low-income residents of West Contra Costa County, has been in dire financial straits for almost 20 years. Voters approved parcel taxes in 2004 and 2011 to keep it afloat, but a third proposed tax in 2014 failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed.

Financial advisor Harold Emahiser said the problem is that 80 percent of the hospital’s patients are on Medicare or Medi-cal, which doesn’t pay enough for services rendered. Continue reading

Support Wanes For Keeping Doctors Medical Center Afloat Through Parcel Tax

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo (Lisa Aliferis/KQED) 

By Sara Hossaini

Support is waning for another parcel tax aimed at keeping Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo open.

Last year, West Contra Costa County voters declined to put a third parcel tax in place that would have benefited West Contra Costa County’s public safety-net hospital. Measure C would have imposed an additional $210 parcel tax for a 2,000-square-foot property.

A ‘key blow’ to keeping Doctors Medical open, says hospital governing chair.

Now Eric Zell, chair of the hospital’s governing board, says a new poll of likely voters shows they’re even less likely to pass a parcel tax this year. Fewer than half say they’d support a $150 tax, falling well short of the two-thirds needed to pass.

“This is one of a number of elements that we’ve considered, but it’s a cornerstone of the potential funding that we were looking at,” Zell said. “So it’s a key blow to our ability to put together a sustainable package of funding that would potentially keep this hospital open.”

He said he wouldn’t recommend putting a measure on the ballot to the board.

Doctors Medical Center runs an $18 million-a-year deficit because most of its reimbursements come from Medi-Cal or Medicare, which pay at a lower rate than private insurance.

Zell said the hospital expects to sign a deal to sell some of its property to the city of San Pablo next week, and he says officials will next have to decide whether to use that money to stay open or close responsibly. That would mean paying off some of the hospital’s debt and paying employee pensions and vacations, he said.

Zell said those decisions will come in the next two to four weeks.

Contra Costa Supervisors Approve Plan to Help Doctors Medical Center

Contra Costa County’s Board of Supervisors passed two new financial measures Tuesday providing last-minute help to embattled Doctors Medical Center (DMC) in San Pablo.

The county voted to delay the hospital’s $3 million property tax payment. If DMC can come up with enough to sustain itself for the next three years, the board will permanently waive $9 million in future repayments.

“What the county’s doing today is, it’s not committing 100 percent,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, “it’s saying these other pieces have to fall into place. If this comes together, we’re in.” Continue reading

Governor Signs Bill Giving $3 Million to Doctors Medical Center

State officials have until Monday to submit plan. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill giving $3 million to financially troubled Doctors Medical Center in western Contra Costa County. The hospital has been in danger of closing for weeks.

SB883 appropriates the money from the state’s Major Risk Medical Insurance Fund to the West Contra Costa Healthcare District, which oversees Doctors Medical Center. It is considered “bridge funding,” according to a release from Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), an author of the bill, so that the hospital and health care district have time to identify more secure funding.

“Doctors Medical Center is the safety net hospital for Richmond, San Pablo and other West Contra County communities. Its closure would leave a community in need without emergency care, cardio, dialysis and other critical hospital services,” Skinner said in a statement.
Continue reading

Options Outlined in Doctors Medical Center Court Hearing

(s_falkow: Flickr)

(s_falkow: Flickr)

(Bay City News) A federal judge in San Francisco today heard arguments Wednesday for — and against — court intervention that would force financially embattled Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo to restore recently cut emergency services.

The U.S. District Court hearing came amid an ongoing fight to keep the hospital open. Officials have reduced services and shed more than 80 staff members there after multiple failed attempts to cover the hospital’s $18 million deficit.

Earlier this month, the hospital stopped accepting emergency ambulances, closed its heart attack intervention unit and reduced its number of inpatient beds to 50. Emergency ambulances that would normally go to DMC are now re-routed to other area hospitals.

A group of doctors, nurses and community advocates filed a lawsuit in federal court on Aug. 12 against Contra Costa County, each member of the Board of Supervisors and West Contra Costa County Healthcare District and district board chairman Eric Zell. Continue reading

Lawsuit Claims Service Reductions at San Pablo Hospital Violate Civil Rights Act

Photo: Doctor's Medical Center

Photo: Doctors Medical Center

by Alexandra Garreton, Jon Brooks, and Bay City News

Contra Costa County officials say they’re doing their best to keep the largest hospital in west Contra Costa County from going under. And that means cutting patient services.

This month Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo stopped accepting ambulances and reduced the number of in-patient beds to 50. County Health Services officials said last week that the 22 to 24 emergency ambulance patients normally seen at DMC each day — including three to four considered to be in critical condition — are now being diverted to other area hospitals.

Last fall, Doctor’s Medical Center announced a fiscal emergency and planned closure of the hospital. In recent months, at least 88 doctors, nurses and other hospital staffers have left, according to DMC spokesman Chuck Finney.

The hospital plans to cut more beds and close their cardiac unit in September.

Continue reading