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County Officials Consider Plan to Downsize Doctors Medical Center to Avert Closure

The hospital has been on track to close at the end of July.

Contra Costa County health officials are considering a plan to downsize the fiscally struggling Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo in an effort to keep it from closing.

Doctors Medical Center Interim CEO Dawn Gideon announced during a well-attended town hall meeting in San Pablo Monday evening that the West Contra Costa Healthcare District would rescind an earlier notice of closure sent to the county as it studies the proposal to review alternatives that would allow the hospital to stay open.
 
The hospital had been on track to close by the end of July after years of financial woes stemming from its mix of mostly Medi-Care and Medi-Cal patients and the failure of a May parcel tax measure meant to bridge the hospital's multimillion-dollar budget gap seemed to cement the hospital's fate.

Related article: Measure K Sales Tax Asks Residents to Fund 'Emergency Medical Services Squad'
 
But during a meeting Friday, the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California agreed to partner with Contra Costa Health Services on a plan to find a long-term solution to keep the hospital open.
 
"In the past, the regional hospitals made significant investments in Doctors Medical Center in the hope that it could turn its financial situation around," said Dr. William Walker, director of the county health department. "It's clear we need to find a more sustainable healthcare delivery system, one that provides superior care and is financially viable in the long run," he said.
 
Walker is set to lead a stakeholder group including representatives from the region's hospitals and healthcare systems to study alternative models of the hospital that could exist instead of closing it completely, according to County Supervisor John Gioia.
 
"That could be anything from a scaled-down version of the current hospital with a free-standing emergency room, or (only) urgent care," he said. Healthcare representatives plan to ask the county board of supervisors at its Tuesday meeting for a tax advance of up to $6 million to keep Doctors Medical Center open while the stakeholder group studies the issue, Gioia said.
 
He said the group will likely "come up with some conclusions" by the end of this month.
 
Doctors Medical Center has West Contra Costa County's largest emergency room with 25 beds and is the only area hospital providing advanced care to heart attack and stroke patients. Earlier plans to close the hospital have met with stark opposition from nurses' unions, local leaders and community groups who say the hospital's closure would leave people without life-saving care.

Last month, the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United filed federal civil rights complaints against the healthcare district over its plans to close the hospital, saying the closure would disproportionately affect seniors, low-income residents and people of color.

Related article: Nurses' Union File Complaints Over Closure of Doctors Medical Center

—By Bay City News
Russell June 11, 2014 at 02:05 PM
It appears that some common sense is being applied to this situation now. Hopefully a "stabilize and transport" facility can be sustained on the $100 worth of parcel taxes already in place. This is a good example of how a problem can be solved without throwing new tax dollars at it. On another note, this hospital is currently a very highly rated facility. This has not always been the case. The hospital likes to treat privately insured people like myself but frankly I was concerned about the quality of the care. If only the nurses unions had been as concerned about the quality of care in the past as they are about keeping the doors open.

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