Ark. hospital gets reprieve
* De Queen (Ark.) Regional Medical Center, which had been expected to close last week, will operate at least through Oct. 11, having extended a contract to outsource its emergency room. City lawmakers continued negotiations over a bond issue to buttress the 25-bed critical-access hospital, making it more attractive to potential buyers. "We're out of cash and out of time," hospital Administrator Bruce Bennett said. Residents approved a 1 percentage-point sales tax increase to fund the issue, but Mayor Dale Kesner vetoed the City Council's resolution to put the plan in place, Bennett said. If the hospital closes, the city's 5,800 residents would have to travel about 35 miles to reach another facility, he said.
Calif. hospital may reopen
* Santa Paula (Calif.) Memorial Hospital, which shut its doors and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last December, could reopen within six to eight months under a deal approved last week by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. The deal calls for the county to acquire the 49-bed hospital's assets for $2.75 million and pay off its $14.7 million debt. In addition, 15.5 acres of undeveloped, hospital-owned land would be sold to a residential developer, generating up to $12 million for creditors. The bankruptcy court judge must approve the plan.
Ratings bright for kids' hospitals
* Children's hospitals remain a bright spot on the hospital ratings horizon thanks to their relatively powerful position in the marketplace and successful fund-raising, according to a new report from Moody's Investors Service. Children's hospitals offer a unique service that is in high demand, which translates into better financial performance, said Lisa Goldstein, Moody's senior vice president. Given the lack of competition, children's hospitals can negotiate better deals with managed-care payers, and balance sheets at children's hospitals get a boost from fund-raising efforts.