In the first two weeks after financially struggling Doctors Medical Center began diverting emergency ambulance traffic to other hospitals, nearby Kaiser Medical Center in Richmond received the most traffic with 322 patients admitted into their ER, according to data provided by Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay Monday.
The ambulance traffic numbers from Aug. 7 to Aug. 19 were presented by Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Services Director Pat Frost during a weekly conference call about the impact of major service reductions at DMC, which is struggling to close an $18 million annual deficit.
Before ambulance traffic ceased at DMC, the hospital, which is now only accepting walk-ins, handled 60-percent of the county’s emergency care.
The deficit has caused an exodus of hospital employees, hospital officials say, forcing DMC to stop accepting ambulance service because its ER can no longer be adequately staffed. Inpatient beds at the hospital have also been capped at 50 from 140 and the cardiac unit treating heart attack patients has been closed.
The cuts have led to an influx of additional patients at other hospitals, particularly Kaiser Richmond’s 15-bed ER. The hospital recently complained its quality of care would be compromised if the overwhelming influx of new patients continued. Also, one family last week claimed a loved one who suffered from cardiac arrest died following a 90-minute wait at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley.
Hospital officials had warned about these types of incidents while promoting a May tax measure that would have solved DMC’s deficit. The tax measure failed to gain approval from two-thirds of voters.