Assemblymember Skinner introduces bill to help Doctors Medical Center

West Contra Costa Healthcare District

Legislation aimed at increasing funds for Doctors Medical Center by hiking federal reimbursement rates has been introduced by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, and in response Richmond Councilman Jael Myrick is requesting an emergency City Council meeting Tuesday to pass a resolution supporting the bill, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Skinner’s bill would raise only about $4 million, leaving the hospital with a $14 million annual deficit, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia told the newspaper. The legislation would designate DMC a public hospital, thus increasing its reimbursements under Medi-Cal.

“It’s helpful and we appreciate Assemblywoman Skinner’s efforts, but other things would have to happen for the hospital to remain open,” Gioia said.

The legislation was announced in the wake of massive reductions in services at DMC. Failed attempts to solve the hospital’s $18 million annual deficit have caused an exodus of staff, hospital officials say. That led to a controversial decision to divert all of DMC’s emergency ambulance traffic to other hospitals, to cap inpatient beds at 50 from about 140, and to close its STEM1 cardiac unit treating heart attack patients.

The reductions have already been felt, with the region’s other hospitals complaining of an overwhelming influx of patients that have drastically increased wait times. On Thursday, KPIX (Ch. 5) reported that a man suffering from cardiac arrest died after waiting 90 minutes at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley.

DMC officials say the biggest blow to the hospital’s rescue plan was the failure of Measure C in May, a parcel tax that would have raised $20 million annually for the hospital.