SEATTLE—The Washington state health department sharply criticized 250-bed Seattle Children's Hospital for deficiencies it says may have contributed to the death of an infant in September. In a report, state officials said the baby, who was being prepared for transfer to Seattle Children's from another hospital, was administered four medications by a transport nurse without a physician's order. The infant died soon after. The hospital responded quickly to the report, issuing a statement saying it disagreed with the department's characterization of the infant's cause of death. “Their review involved a critically ill newborn who died of natural causes, as determined by the King County Medical Examiner's office, prior to transport,” Seattle Children's said in the written statement. Hospital officials said they are taking the inadequacies outlined in the report seriously and are addressing problems in their transport protocols. “We responded to the (department of health) with a thorough action plan and timeline to address these findings.” The incident involving the infant's death came to light during a state investigation of the September death of another baby at Seattle Children's, who died from a medication error.
Regional News/West: Seattle Children's Hospital criticized, and other news
SALT LAKE CITY—The for-profit Ensign Group, Mission Viejo, Calif., has agreed to purchase Christus St. Joseph Villa, a continuing-care community in Salt Lake City, from not-for-profit Christus Health, Irving, Texas, for an undisclosed amount. The purchase includes Christus Marian Center, a long-term inpatient psychiatric facility operated within the community, according to an Ensign news release. Matt Church, an Ensign operational leader, will head the facility, which has 221 skilled-nursing beds, 60 independent-living apartments, 48 assisted-living units and 12 psychiatric beds, the release states. The facility will be operated by Ensign's Utah-based subsidiary, Milestone Healthcare, which has nine other subsidiaries in Utah and Idaho, according to Ensign. Christus decided to sell the facility in part because it is Christus' only Utah facility, making it difficult to coordinate care under the goals of health reform, said Christus spokeswoman Abby Lowe. The system also had unsuccessfully sought local zoning changes to expand the facility, which also played a role, Lowe said. Christus has no plans to sell its two other continuing-care facilities in Texas and Louisiana, she said.
OAKLAND, Calif.—Kaiser Permanente has teamed up with fuel-cell company Bloom Energy to generate power at seven California facilities by the end of 2011. The managed-care giant will install “Bloom Boxes,” which will generate four megawatts of solid oxide fuel-cell generated power. The deal is part of a broader strategy to use on-site renewable energy sources to power Kaiser Permanente buildings across the country. “By expanding the use of cleaner energy technologies such as fuel cells, we're demonstrating our commitment to greening our energy portfolio and reducing our carbon footprint,” Kathy Gerwig, vice president and environmental stewardship officer at Kaiser Permanente, said in a statement. The four megawatts of fuel-cell power will reduce the integrated health plan's use of fossil fuels for electricity by about 34% at participating facilities, according to a press release. Bloom Energy is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Kaiser Permanente has also said it would deploy 15 megawatts of solar power at 15 facilities in California by the end of 2011.
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced he now has the authority to enforce how health plan premium dollars are spent by insurance companies. The federal health reform law mandated that, starting Jan. 1, insurers must spend at least 80% of every member premium dollar for the individual market on medical care or quality-improvement activities. That means insurers can spend only up to 20% of member premiums on marketing, overhead or other administrative costs. Starting next year, insurers out of compliance must issue rebates to members. Jones requested an emergency regulation to enforce this provision, and the Office of Administration Law has granted that request. “This emergency regulation will give me the legal authority to enforce the new federal 80% medical-loss ratio for the individual health insurance market in California, even if Congress prevents the federal Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing it,” Jones said in a written statement. “I will be watching very closely to make sure health insurers comply.”
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