Top executive at Doctors Medical Center to step down Feb. 1

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West Contra Costa Healthcare District

The executive who led Doctors Medical Center (DMC) from bankruptcy before the hospital was hit with more financial challenges is stepping down due to unspecified health issues, said Eric Zell, chair of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District.

Dawn Gideon’s official end date is Feb. 1. Kathy White, the interim COO, is slated to assume Gideon’s duties in addition to her COO work.

Zell said Gideon had originally planned to leave later this year as part of the cost-cutting measures from the 5×8 plan, a last-ditch effort to preserve DMC as a full-service hospital.

“Dawn’s departure is ahead of schedule, but given her personal health issues, it is completely understandable,” Zell said in a statement.

He credited Gideon for “innovative cost cutting measures, reforms and strong leadership as she kept hte hospital open during dire financial times.”

Gideon was hired as DMC’s Interim CEO in March 2011, after leading an effort to rescue the hospital from bankruptcy three years earlier, partly through operational adjustments to save $12 million annually.

DMC’s financial troubles returned, however, after the safety-net hospital suffered from decreased reimbursement rates and a 22-percent drop in patients (CC Times) due to the Affordable Care Act, which offered patients more options to go elsewhere, according to Gideon.

In 2013, the hospital declared a fiscal emergency, and then in May of last year voters rejected a parcel tax that would have closed a $20 million annual deficit.

The latest effort to address that shortfall is the 5×8 Plan: a five-year, eight-part proposal to preserve a full-service hospital.

The plan includes the need to pass a less expensive parcel tax, to procure additional contributions from hospitals in the region, and to further slash DMC’s payroll and employee benefits.

The 60-year-old DMC has had financial problems for years, mainly related to the low reimbursement rates from the hospital’s many MediCare and Medi-Cal patients.

Last year, the hospital was forced to dramatically reduce services, diverting all ambulances to other hospitals and reducing the number of beds.

On Friday, the Contra Costa Times looked into the impact the ceasing of ambulance service at DMC has had on other hospitals such as Kaiser Richmond.

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