CC Times: Doctors Medical Center might sell hospital property to casino operators

West Contra Costa Healthcare District

Doctors Medical Center is discussing the possibility of selling the hospital property to owners of the casino next door, the Contra Costa Times has learned.

“It is widely believed that the casino would likely pay the highest price for the property, but we need to explore all avenues,” hospital CEO Dawn Gideon wrote in an email obtained by the Times. “In the interim, we are working with the casino on the completion of asbestos and hazardous waste surveys that may impact the sales price.”

The casino, run by the Lytton Tribe, recently paid $4.6 million to lease parking behind the hospital. The tribe told the Times it would not necessarily expand the casino if it purchases the DMC property.

“There are a host of reasons we might want it,” Larry Stidham, the tribe’s general counsel,  told the newspaper. “It doesn’t have to be related to game.”

Gideon says cash-strapped DMC  likely will remain open through the end of the year. The hospital is burdened by an $18 million annual deficit.

The 60-year-old DMC at one point provided about 80 percent of inpatient hospital capacity and nearly 60-percent of emergency-room care to about 250,000 West County residents. But the hospital has cut services due to financial troubles. Many DMC patients are covered by government plans such as MediCare and Medi-Cal that reimburse hospitals at a significantly lower rate than the cost of services.

In May, the hospital’s future was thrown in doubt after Measure C, a parcel tax to address its $18 million annual deficit, failed to garner support from two-thirds of voters.

Since then, workers, nurses and doctors have been leaving DMC in search of stability, according to hospital officials. That, officials added, led to the decision to divert all of DMC’s emergency ambulance traffic to other hospitals, reduce inpatient beds, and close its STEM1 cardiac unit treating heart attack patients.