Plan pitched to downsize rather than shut down Doctors Medical Center

West Contra Costa Healthcare District

The financially unsustainable Doctors Medical Center (DMC) in San Pablo could be downsized rather than closed for good as part of a new plan pitched at a town hall meeting Monday night, according to the West County Times.

The proposal would reportedly include deep cuts to the safety-net hospital but would sustain its 25-bed emergency department, which is the West County’s largest, the newspaper reported.

The plan also includes asking the county Board of Supervisors to approve a $6 million loan to sustain the hospital for about four months while health care district officials seek funding for a more sustainable health care model. Additionally, a poll has been commissioned to see whether voters would support a countywide sales tax hike that could help save the hospital and also fund public safety.

DMC was scheduled to be closed in late July after a parcel tax that would have addressed the hospital’s $18 million annual deficit failed last month. The hospital has had financial troubles since the 1990s, largely because many of its patients are covered by government plans such as MediCare and Medi-Cal, which reimburse hospitals at a significantly lower rate than the cost of services. On Monday, DMC CEO Dawn Gideon said the Affordable Care Act worsened the problem by deeply cutting MediCare reimbursement and costing the hospital $2.8 million this year, the West County Times reported.

DMC provides 79 percent of the hospital beds and 60 percent of the emergency care in West County. Its closure would put added demands on emergency rooms in nearby hospitals, such as Kaiser Richmond, causing wait times to balloon, according to hospital staff.

Read the full West Count Times report here.