SAN FRANCISCO-Sutter Health said it will merge its two San Francisco hospitals, California Pacific Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital, in an arrangement designed to save the latter from closure. St. Luke's, which serves a large portion of the city's uninsured and low-income population, lost $21 million last year and is on track to lose $24 million to $26 million this year, Sutter said. The system said the 260-bed hospital would continue to operate as an acute-care facility, most likely as the fourth campus of 651-bed California Pacific, which earned net income of $113 million in 2003. The proposal follows almost two years of negotiations between Sutter and the hospitals. Critics, including some labor unions and patient advocates, have long feared a merger would result in the loss of critical services at St. Luke's. Sacramento-based Sutter acquired St. Luke's amid controversy in 2001. As part of the deal, Sutter agreed to keep St. Luke's emergency room open and maintain the hospital's level of charity care through July 2006. The merger with California Pacific could take up to a year and must be approved by the state attorney general.
VANCOUVER, Wash.-Southwest Washington Medical Center is slated to receive a $15 million private donation to enhance its infrastructure and technology. The money, to be donated by E.W. and Mary Firstenburg, founders of Vancouver-based First Independent Bank, is believed to be the largest philanthropic pledge by a living donor for any cause in Clark County. Officials at the 336-bed community-owned hospital said the gift would be used to help build and equip its new patient tower, scheduled for completion in December 2006. The 307,000-square-foot building-which will now be named the Firstenburg Patient Tower-will house up to 154 private patient rooms, 13 operating rooms and a new heart center.
CLOVIS, Calif.-Vibra Healthcare acquired land to build a 64-bed long-term acute-care hospital in Clovis, a Fresno suburb. Construction is set to begin in mid-2006, with completion set for 2007. The new free-standing specialty hospital would strengthen Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based Vibra's presence in the Fresno market, where it operates 62-bed San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital, and would provide extended care for medically complex patients initially treated at other local hospitals, company officials said. Founded in 2004, Vibra operates eight extended-care hospitals with a total of 535 beds in six states-California, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio.