VENTURA, Calif.-The medical staff of 180-bed Community Memorial Hospital of San Buenaventura, Ventura, Calif., is a legal entity and may sue the hospital's board over a new code of conduct and control of a $250,000 bank account, a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled earlier this month. Judge Henry Walsh dismissed the remaining claims made in the physicians' April lawsuit but said the doctors could refile the claims as individuals. The physicians contend the code of conduct and a new conflict-of-interest policy threaten the medical staff's independence and ability to police quality. The policy requires doctors to disclose ventures competing with the hospital and prohibits doctors with competing ventures from serving on hospital committees. In addition, the doctors and hospital are fighting over control of $250,000 raised through physician application fees.
GRANADA HILLS, Calif.-Granada Hills (Calif.) Community Hospital shut its doors last week after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Los Angeles accepted the bankruptcy trustee's recommendation to close the hospital. The judge also converted the case to Chapter 7 liquidation from Chapter 11 reorganization. The 139-bed hospital filed for bankruptcy in November 2002 after the collapse of its accounts receivables financier, National Century Financial Enterprises, Dublin, Ohio. In January, Healthcare Resource Specialists, Tampa, Fla., and its principal, James Doulgeris, were appointed to manage the hospital. Doulgeris didn't return to the hospital after a July 4 vacation, and a week later federal investigators reported that at least $1.4 million in employee withholdings had not been paid to the Internal Revenue Service. From his Florida home, Doulgeris denied wrongdoing and said, "I reported everything to the board and absolutely deny I took any money."
MORENO VALLEY, Calif.-The former chief executive officer of 347-bed Riverside County Regional Medical Center and the public hospital's former director of pediatrics have been charged with embezzling more than $250,000 and falsifying time cards from 2000 to 2002, authorities said. Former CEO Donna Matney and former pediatrics director Daniel Aldana each face two counts of criminal theft and three counts of misappropriation of funds. If convicted on all counts, each could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
LOVELAND, Colo.-Poudre Valley Health System in Fort Collins, Colo., and Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Neb., have signed an operating agreement for a $200 million hospital in Loveland, scheduled to open in 2006 and announced earlier this year (Jan. 13, p. 8). Poudre Valley will own the bulk of the hospital and appoint the majority of board members. It also will manage and staff the 125-bed hospital. Regional West will own 12% of the new hospital and appoint one member to the 11-member board. Officials have hired architecture firm HLM Design in Denver and general contractor J.E. Dunn Construction, Kansas City, Mo.
SOUTH JORDAN, Utah-Coventry Health Care, Bethesda, Md., agreed to acquire 160,000-member Altius Health Plans for up to $41 million in cash, giving Coventry its first members in Utah. Altius had 2002 revenue of about $235 million. The transaction is expected to close this quarter, pending customary approvals, and will add 1 cent to Coventry's per-share earnings in 2003 and 6 cents in 2004, officials said. As of June 30, Coventry had 2.9 million members.
TACOMA, Wash.-Franciscan Health System said recently that it plans to build a $94 million, 112-bed hospital in Gig Harbor, Wash., the 6,500-resident city's first medical center. The new, full-service hospital, which has not been named, will qualify as a Level IV trauma center, allowing it to serve all but the most severely injured patients, who will be transferred to Tacoma or Seattle-area hospitals. The first phase of the project, including 84 beds, is scheduled to open in 2007, with more beds to be added as needed. Three-hospital Franciscan Health will pay for the construction through philanthropic gifts, grants and bonds issued by its parent company, Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver.