California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of March 23, 2012

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Daughters of Charity Health System, Los Altos Hills

The Daughters of Charity Health System -- which operates Seton Medical Center and other hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles region -- recently signed a memorandum of understanding to join Ascension Health Alliance, the largest Catholic health care system in the U.S., the San Francisco Business Times reports.

The two systems said that due diligence will occur in the "coming weeks and months" and that they hope to reach a definitive agreement by the end of the year.

Although the systems did not cite specific reasons for discussing an affiliation agreement, the Business Times reports that Daughters of Charity has struggled financially for years while operating safety-net hospitals.

Robert Issai -- president and CEO of the Daughters of Charity system -- said that joining Ascension would help strengthen Daughters of Charity while continuing its "mission of providing comprehensive, excellent care" (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 3/16).

Loma Linda University Children's Hospital

At a recent gala, the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Foundation raised $720,650 to help pay for programs and needed medical equipment at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.

About 800 people attended the gala, which was organized by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

With the funds, the hospital hopes to purchase various equipment, such as a Cone Beam CT Scanner to help diagnose children's health conditions in a less intrusive and intimidating way. The scanner would make the hospital the first on the West Coast to offer such a procedure (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/18).

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Westwood; Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital

Blue Shield of California officials recently said that UCLA has submitted a proposal that could settle a long-standing contract dispute, but the two sides still have to agree on several details, the Los Angeles Time reports.

Blue Shield and UCLA have been working to reach an agreement on reimbursement rates since the fall. The organizations are at odds over how much Blue Shield should pay when members seek care at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood or at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital.

Blue Shield officials said that the amount the insurer has to pay for members' treatment at the facilities has almost doubled over the last five years.

UCLA officials attribute the increases to rising health care costs and attempts to provide physicians with fair reimbursements (Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, 3/20),

Sutter Tracy Community Hospital

Sutter Tracy Community Hospital's registered nurses have voted for representation by the California Nurses Association, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.

In an election held last week, 83 nurses voted in favor of CNA representation, while 70 voted against it. The outcome adds the facility's 170 registered nurses to CNA's organized workforce at Sutter hospitals, which now totals about 6,200. It also increases the number of Sutter hospitals with union representation to 16 out of 26 facilities.

However, CNA has filed unfair labor practice charges against Sutter on the grounds that management tried to interfere with union organizing efforts by tearing down election materials and questioning nurses, among other actions.

Katie Kidder, a spokesperson for Sutter Tracy, said hospital officials were "disappointed but not surprised by the unfair labor practice charges." She added, "We did comply with the legal process for the election" (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/16).

UC-Davis Medical Center, Sacramento

Physicians at UC-Davis Medical Center have started offering the transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure to treat patients who have aortic valve stenosis, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Hospital officials said UC-Davis is the first hospital in Sacramento to offer the procedure, which FDA recently approved.

Aortic valve stenosis reduces blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body through the aortic valve. For the procedure, physicians compress a replacement valve through a catheter and deploy the valve by inflating a balloon. The new valve stays open after the balloon is deflated to allow normal blood flow (Garza, Sacramento Bee, 3/20).


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