Contra Costa supervisors OK $6 million loan to hospital

Board votes 4-1 to prevent center shutdown, support downsized facility

A plan to keep Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo open in a drastically scaled-down form is moving forward with a $6 million loan from Contra Costa County.

The county's Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 at its meeting in Martinez Tuesday morning to approve the multimillion-dollar transfer from the county's general fund capital reserve in order to keep the financially struggling public hospital open while health care officials devise a downsized hospital model focusing on emergency care.

"We have an obligation to all the citizens of this county, and although this closure will have more of a major impact in West County, it will have a countywide impact," Supervisor Federal Glover said.

The county's loan, to be repaid over three years, will give Doctors Medical Center the time it needs to explore a new financially viable health care model such as a stand-alone emergency room or a much smaller facility focusing on emergency care, Contra Costa Health Services director Dr. William Walker said.

Without the cash infusion, the hospital would have to close this summer and would lose $6.4 million in property tax income along with its MediCare license, West Contra Costa Healthcare District director Eric Zell said.

"There's a lot of angst about the change of this model, but at the end of the day, this is about providing basic health care services to that part of the county and we have to do what we have to do to get there," Zell told the board.

Tuesday's vote came a week after Doctors Medical Center officials announced they had rescinded a notice to close the hospital by July 25.

The hospital had been on track to shut down after voters in the West Contra Costa Healthcare District rejected a May parcel tax measure meant to bridge its $18 million budget gap.

Supervisor Mary Piepho, the board's sole "no" vote on the loan, cited the $29 million the county has already loaned the hospital since 2006 and its continued failure to sustain itself.

In addition to ongoing county support, the hospital has managed to stay afloat with revenue from property taxes passed by voters in 2004 and in 2005.

But with the failure of the latest tax measure in May and a structural budget deficit of $18 million due to a patient population consisting mostly of MediCare beneficiaries, hospital leaders prepared for closure.

The county's loan won't be enough to keep Doctors Medical Center from a dramatic downsize. Some 80-90% of its employees could be out of a job as soon as Aug. 1, according to Walker.

Several hospital employees at today's meeting said that while the county loan is needed to keep the hospital open, a plan that includes reduced emergency services would be woefully inadequate to meet the needs of a largely low-income patient population.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Jun 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

The loan will be repaid over a 3 year period...Where have we heard those words. Wake up know it will never be repaid back the the counties general fund. Be's a give away and at least one of you that..

Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini from Alamo

Like this comment
Posted by Danville Hartz
a resident of Danville
on Jun 19, 2014 at 7:28 am

What is funny (but not to taxpayers) is that this is called a loan. They have no ability to cover their monthly burn rate let alone pay back a loan. Supervisors, why are you funding a local business? I am sure there are many other businesses what would love this type of "loan".

Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Jun 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

Well said Danville Hartz...A's all for getting votes.

CCCO supervisors are all brain dead or corrupt.

Why do the taxpayers put up with such foolish...Simple, because the general is brain dead. That is why our Country, State, County and most large Cities are a mess. We the People are the cause. We better wake up or one day when we do wake up we will see a very different life confronting us..Mark my word, it is coming.

Thanks for listing, Julia Pardini from Alamo

Like this comment
Posted by mloliver
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:24 am

Julia, The members of the Board of Sups are neither brain-dead nor corrupt. Misguided and misled maybe, but for the most part, hard working and they try to make the best decisions for the time. The number of people treated at Doctors would seriously overwhelm neighboring hospital ERs and I'm disappointed that another solution wasn't found. Whether a "white knight" will appear in the next three months, I'm doubtful. We will be facing the potential of closure again soon, I expect. I also agree that it is a bail-out, not a loan, but in the case of a buy out or another hospital system joining with Doctors, at least the County will have a lien and perhaps there will be some pay back.


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Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Jun 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

I stand corrected...bad choice of words.

But remember I and others are just speaking about the work LOAN.

This is a give away of tax payers money...they will never get it back. i fact within the next 12 months you may even see the hospital close.

It is a give away for votes.

Thank you for pointed out my wrong choice of words...yes they are misguided and mislead...or are they????????

Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini from Alamo

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Jun 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Doctors is a district hospital which was created by a public vote and gets funding from a local parcel tax. It's not a "private business." Since hospital Emergency Rooms are required by law to treat everyone who shows up, even if they can't pay, taxpayers currently have to subsidize ER services for uninsured people who are injured or take ill in poor areas, one way or the other. With more people having medical insurance now with ACA that drain on our tax dollars should go down in the future, but Doctor's financial problem is now.

All the loudmouths deriding the County Supervisors (with the usual air of smug contempt and superiority) actually are simply ignorant. I don't know if this loan is a good idea or not but I do know that Julia et al. have no clue.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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