The number of California hospital beds declined by 4%—to 80,616 in 2007 from 83,734 in 2001—despite population growth of 9% statewide to about 35.5 million over the same six-year period, according to a new report.
California sees decline in number of hospital beds: report
General acute-care beds in the state rose slightly, from 83% of all beds in 2001 to 87% in 2007, but skilled-nursing beds fell from 11% to 9%, according to the report by the California HealthCare Foundation.
Still, California has the fewest beds among the 10 most populous states, with just 1.9 staffed beds per 1,000 population in 2007 compared with 3.2 staffed beds per 1,000 in New York and Pennsylvania, according to the report.
Twenty-seven hospitals closed in California over the six-year period, a loss of 3,500 licensed beds.
The seven largest hospital systems in the state represent more than one-third of the total 512 hospitals statewide. Catholic Healthcare West and Kaiser Permanente, combined, account for nearly one out of five beds, according to the report.
Hospital margins improved. In 2007, 55% of hospitals had positive operating margins, while 68% had positive total margins. Not-for-profit hospitals were better off financially than for-profit ones, the report said.
Private payers contributed 46% of net revenues in 2007, but accounted for 34% of patient discharges.
Charity care rose 23%, and bad debt increased by 19% between 2001 and 2007. Hospital admissions were down, however, by 9%, compared with a national decline of 2% over the six-year period. Emergency department visits were down by 5% in the state, but ER patients were sicker in 2007 than in 2003.
More than 200 acute-care hospitals still have buildings considered unsafe by upcoming state seismic safety rules.
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