Voters in west Contra Costa County, Calif., overwhelmingly approved a $52 annual parcel tax to help ensure the survival of cash-strapped Doctors Medical Center, San Pablo, which runs the county's only full-service emergency room. The property tax, approved by 84% of voters, is expected to raise $6.1 million a year to offset the 131-bed hospital's mounting operating costs. The hospital's future was cast into limbo earlier this year when Tenet Healthcare Corp. announced it would cease to operate the facility on July 31. West Contra Costa Healthcare District ran the hospital for more than 40 years until near-bankruptcy led the district to lease the facility to Tenet in 1997. The district will resume control Aug. 1. Contra Costa is the fifth California county in recent years to turn to ballot measures in an effort to keep its healthcare system afloat. Similar measures were approved in Alameda, Los Angeles and Maricopa counties, while an initiative in Monterey County fell just short of passage. -- by Laura B. Benko
Voters OK tax to support Calif. hospital
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