Latest plan to preserve full-service Doctors Medical Center ‘blindsided’ Hospital Council

West Contra Costa Healthcare District

The latest plan to preserve Doctors Medical Center “blindsided” members of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, who are being asked to contribute as much as $4 million annually to keep the full-service hospital open, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

Rebecca Rozen, a regional vice president at the Hospital Council, told the news organization that her group wasn’t notified about the plan until after it was leaked to the Contra Costa Times Monday.

The Hospital Council is a member of a regional planning group that has been working to find a sustainable solution for the San Pablo safety-net hospital, which has been losing money for years and currently has a $20 million annual deficit. In September, the group of experts ruled out the possibility of a full-service facility and instead pitched proposals for more financially sustainable alternatives that preserved essential care.

But two plans have since popped up to preserve a full-service hospital, at least in the short term. The first plan came from the City of Richmond and the second, more ambitious plan was presented Tuesday by Eric Zell, chairman of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District.

Both plans, as we reported Tuesday, face numerous obstacles that may not be achievable before the hospital runs out of money in March. The Healthcare District’s proposal is a five-year plan hinging on eight uncertain funding sources, including deferment of debt by the county and the passage of a parcel tax similar to the one that was rejected by voters earlier this year.

Regional hospitals are also being asked to contribute to a full-service operation. Area hospitals have provided millions of dollars in support of a full-service hospital over the past decade. Over the last eight years, Kaiser has provided more than $20 million, while John Muir has pitched in $4 million since 2008.

“We always said that the amount of funding (given by the hospitals) was important but didn’t lead to any long-term sustainable solution,” Rozen told the newspaper, adding that the planning group concluded that a downsized, less expensive urgent care center makes the most sense.

In a statement issued later, the Hospital Council noted that the Healthcare District proposal was developed “without all the parties at the table and needs to be examined in detail. There are many contingencies that will take months to resolve without any guarantees of success, and we are concerned about the potential disruption of care in West County.”