LA JOLLA, Calif.—Scripps Health has announced a $2 billion 25-year master plan to rebuild Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Three hospital towers will replace the existing hospital, and the 43-acre campus will include research and graduate medical education facilities and outpatient treatment and medical offices. Construction on the first 383,000-square-foot tower will begin in June 2011, with an opening date of 2015. Construction costs are estimated at $398 million for the first tower. The expansion will meet state seismic-safety rules and will be financed by operating revenue, borrowing and community support. Scripps has raised $32 million toward a $125 million goal for the first tower. The first tower will house the Scripps Cardiovascular Institute. Scripps recently signed a 10-year agreement with Kaiser Permanente to be the exclusive provider of cardiac surgery and cardiology for Kaiser patients in San Diego County. “The medical care of the future—to be delivered here—incorporates wireless technology, robotic surgery, digital monitoring and record-keeping, and high-tech operating rooms, in a setting designed for and around the patient,” said Brent Eastman, chief medical officer and corporate senior vice president of Scripps, based in San Diego.
Regionals: Scripps Health to rebuild La Jolla hospital, and other news ...
SAN DIEGO—Prime Healthcare Services, Ontario, Calif., has acquired 121-bed Alvarado Hospital in San Diego from a physician-owned company, Plymouth Health, Sherman Oaks, Calif. Terms were not disclosed in Prime's news release. Alvarado Hospital is Prime's 13th hospital, all in Southern California. Prime will maintain the services of the hospital and its health plan contracts. In some previous acquisitions, Prime has canceled existing managed-care contracts, although it has moved away from that tactic more recently. Two physician brothers, Pedram and Pejman Salimpour, formed Plymouth in late 2006 to purchase the hospital from Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas. Tenet had agreed to sell the hospital as part of a settlement of federal criminal charges related to some of Alvarado's physician-relocation agreements. The case was tried twice, but both trials ended in mistrials. Tenet realized pretax proceeds of $22.5 million on the sale, which was completed in January 2007. Despite the clinical, operational and financial improvements at Alvarado since then, the business model of a stand-alone hospital is not viable in the current healthcare environment, Pejman Salimpour said, according to Prime's release.
LOS ANGELES—The Hospital Association of Southern California is establishing a program to transition homeless patients from inpatient care to a recuperative-care setting. In partnership with the National Health Foundation and West Coast University, the association will set up the Los Angeles Recuperative Care Program. The residential program, staffed by medical and social service workers, will be located in mid-city Los Angeles. In addition to serving medical needs, the program will refer patients to housing organizations. West Coast University, a nursing school, is donating $50,000 to launch the program, which is modeled after one in Orange County, Calif. “We are very enthusiastic about the recuperative-care program in Los Angeles,” said Jaime Garcia, regional vice president for the Hospital Association of Southern California, in a statement. “Too often, homeless patients have no alternative other than to remain in an acute-care hospital longer than is necessary,” In recent years, a number of hospitals in the Los Angeles area have settled with the city attorney's office over dumping homeless patients on Skid Row. In 2008, the city passed an ordinance making it a misdemeanor for health facilities to transport patients to destinations other than their residences without patients' written consent.
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California fined 12 hospitals in the state for actions that caused or were likely to cause serious injury or death to patients. This is the 12th time the California Public Health Department has issued patient-care penalties since state law gave it the authority to do so in 2007. Hospitals fined $25,000 each were: Citrus Valley Medical Center in Covina; Hanford (Calif.) Community Medical Center; Kindred Hospital Westminster (Calif.); Placentia (Calif.)-Linda Hospital; and Southwest Healthcare System in Murrieta. Hospitals fined $50,000 each were: Palomar Medical Center in Escondido; Petaluma (Calif.) Valley Hospital; Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla (Calif.); and USC University Hospital in Los Angeles. One hospital—Western Medical Center in Santa Ana—was fined $75,000. Two Bay Area hospitals received two penalties each. California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco was fined a total of $125,000 for not following proper surgical policies in two instances. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, was fined a total of $50,000 for failing to follow surgical policies and rules on medication administration, according to the state. The penalty amounts are based on the number of total violations a facility has received and when the violations occurred. In 2009, the penalties rose to as much as $100,000 per violation.
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Six hospitals and one nursing home in California were fined a total of $792,500 for failing to prevent snooping into patients' medical records. The penalties stem from two laws signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 after a rash of high-profile cases of hospital workers peeking at celebrities' medical records. Medical facilities can be fined $25,000 per patient medical information breach, and an additional $17,500 for each subsequent breach of each patient's medical data. The facilities that received penalties are: Biggs-Gridley (Calif.) Memorial Hospital; Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange; Delano (Calif.) Regional Medical Center; Kaweah Manor Convalescent Hospital in Visalia; Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield; Oroville (Calif.) Hospital; and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach (Calif.). The fines ranged from $5,000 to $250,000. Kern Medical Center was fined $250,000—the maximum penalty allowed—for not preventing the theft of nearly 600 patients' medical information. Kern also was fined $60,000 because two employees on three occasions peeked at one patient's records. “Medical privacy is a fundamental right and a critical component of quality medical care in California,” said Mark Horton, director of the state's Public Health Department, in a statement. “We are very concerned with violations of patient confidentiality and their potential harm to the residents of California.”
VICTORVILLE, Calif.—A bankruptcy court auction produced a winning bid of $37 million for 115-bed Victor Valley Community Hospital, according to court records. Kali Chaudhuri is a principal of the two entities that submitted the winning bid, according to a declaration Chaudhuri filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, Calif. Chaudhuri, a physician, is the controlling shareholder of investor-owned, four-hospital Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Santa Ana, Calif. Chaudhuri's affiliates trumped a bid by the original leading bidder, Prime Healthcare Services, Ontario, Calif., which ended its bidding at $35 million, according to the auction report. Prime already owns the only other hospital in Victorville, 83-bed Desert Valley Hospital. Prime is due a $650,000 breakup fee, court records show. Victor Valley Community Hospital filed for bankruptcy in September. A bankruptcy court judge has approved the sale.
SIMI VALLEY, Calif.—Simi Valley Hospital agreed to pay the U.S. $5.2 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging the hospital's behavioral-health unit submitted improper claims to Medicare and Medicaid in the 1990s. The 67-bed hospital, which is part of Adventist Health, a 17-hospital system based in Roseville, Calif., did not admit any wrongdoing by entering the settlement. “We believe that our hospital follows fair and accurate billing practices and are settling to avoid the expense and inconvenience of lengthy litigation,” the hospital said in a written statement. The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act in 2001 by Timothy Field, a physician who was program director and then administrative director for behavioral medicine from 1993 to 2000. He alleges in the complaint that he was terminated for questioning the billing practices. The allegations include that the hospital billed the government programs for psychiatric care when patients in fact received treatment for drug and alcohol dependency; admitted patients overnight who didn't meet criteria for hospitalization; and paid a medical director $12,000 a month to establish and admit patients into a nonexistent program for women with post-traumatic stress disorder. The U.S. Justice Department formally joined the lawsuit in October, noting in its court filing that the intervention was “for the purpose of effectuating a settlement.”
LOS ANGELES—California PPOs are lagging on clinical best practices and customer satisfaction, according to a second annual report by the state Insurance Department. None of the six PPOs surveyed got the highest four-star rating on clinical best practices that meet the national standards of care. Aetna, Cigna HealthCare of California and UnitedHealthcare each got three stars, or “good,” in this category, which rated plans based on asthma care, cancer checks, diabetes and pediatrics. Anthem Blue Cross, a subsidiary of WellPoint, Health Net and Blue Shield of California each received two stars. All PPO insurers except Aetna got only a single-star—or “poor”—rating for plan service, which included helpful customer service and getting information on patient costs and paying claims. Aetna got a “fair” rating of two stars. California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said the report card shows insurers “will have to do better,” he added, “This should be their wakeup call.”
DENVER—The Colorado Health Foundation has provided a $6.48 million grant to the Colorado Health Services Corps to be used help repay student loans for primary-care doctors and other healthcare professionals who make a three-year commitment to practice in an underserved area. The grant money will be administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and is expected to help ease the education debt of some 48 physicians, nurses, physician assistants, dental hygienists and behavioral health providers, a news release said. In return, they agree to work at a federally qualified health center, rural health clinic or other safety net facility in a rural or underserved urban community, according to the release. Foundation spokeswoman Suzanne Beranek said primary-care physicians are eligible to receive up to $150,000, while other healthcare professionals may get up to $105,000.
BELLEVUE, Wash.—PeaceHealth, a seven-hospital system, plans to relocate its headquarters to Vancouver, Wash., from Bellevue, pending its merger with Southwest Washington Health System. Between 75 and 80 PeaceHealth employees are expected to relocate by May 2014, when the lease on the Bellevue office expires. System officials estimate that about 500 people will be on-site at a service center in Vancouver by 2014, with about 60% of those positions coming from various PeaceHealth locations, according to a news release. The move also is contingent on finding suitable office space, a spokesman said. The affiliation with Southwest Washington Health System is expected to be finalized by year-end, pending routine regulatory approvals and a vote by both systems' boards. PeaceHealth is a faith-based system that operates hospitals in Alaska, Oregon and Washington state. Southwest Washington Health System is located in Vancouver.
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