Waianae (Hawaii) Coast Comprehensive Health Center received $1 million in state funding to maintain its emergency room 24 hours per day, year-round. Without the grant, the not-for-profit facility would have been forced to eliminate services between midnight and 8 a.m., officials said. Established in 1972, Waianae Coast is the largest community-owned health center in the state, serving 23,000 patients annually, and is the only facility equipped to handle emergency medical care in the 50,000-resident Waianae area, located on the west side of the island of Oahu. The nearest emergency room is located 16 miles -- or about 30 to 40 minutes -- away at 102-bed St. Francis Medical Center-West, Ewa Beach.
Reno medical center lays off 96
St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev., has laid off 96 employees and cut the work hours of five others in a move to trim $6.3 million from its payroll, the hospital announced. The job cuts represent reductions of 86.4 full-time equivalent positions, said hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Kruse. Of them, 18 FTEs were in management positions, 5.4 were technical workers, 21 were clinical employees and 42 were in clerical positions. No nurses were laid off. Kruse said the cutbacks came as the hospital continues to deal with losing three key managed-care contracts to its Reno rival Washoe Medical Center. The contract with Blue Cross of California was lost in 2002 and contracts with Aetna and the state of Nevada were lost in 2003. The Blue Cross arrangement represented "a fairly large contract" for the hospital, Kruse said.
Illinois caps med-mal damages
llinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a medical malpractice law that caps noneconomic damages at $500,000 in cases against physicians and increases regulatory oversight of medical liability insurers in the state. The legislation includes a $1 million cap for hospitals, and allows physicians to apologize for errors without such statements being used against them in court. The medical establishment, which has sought the changes for years, said the law will reduce the cost of liability insurance and stop the migration of doctors who might be leaving Illinois because of high costs. Previous attempts to impose a cap have been declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, and lawyers are already mounting an effort to have the legislation overturned, saying it strictly limits the rights of plaintiffs in cases where doctors have made errors.