More aid for Arizona system
* Maricopa County, Ariz., will set aside more than $100 million in general funds to bail out its financially strapped healthcare system and ensure a clean handoff to a new healthcare district in November. For years, the county has subsidized Maricopa Integrated Health System, which includes 482-bed Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix. County supervisors thought they had secured the system's financial future in November 2003 when voters approved a property tax increase to pump as much as $40 million per year into the system. But an audit put the system's projected losses this year at more than $50 million beyond projections.
Backup set in California
* City Council members in Santa Paula, Calif., created a public healthcare agency that would reopen the area's only hospital should efforts to save the facility fail. Members unanimously voted to form the Santa Paula Community Healthcare Authority to develop a reorganization plan for 49-bed Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, which shut its doors and filed for bankruptcy protection last December. Council members said the agency won't affect talks between the hospital's board and potential suitors, which include Kare Healthcare and Pinnacle Development Group. The board is considering rolling Santa Paula Memorial into Ventura County's public system.
Hermann plans new facility
* Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston, announced plans to build a 75-bed hospital in Sugar Land, Texas, the system's third project since March. The system said it would close 65-bed Memorial Hermann Fort Bend Hospital in Missouri City, Texas, about 10 miles from Sugar Land. The new facility is expected to cost $93 million and open in 2006. The system previously announced a $98 million replacement for Memorial Hermann Katy (Texas) Hospital and the building of three cancer institutes costing at least $100 million.