Renewed hope for Doctors Medical Center following proposals from private hospital groups, San Pablo

West Contra Costa Healthcare District

Encouraging news from the Contra Costa Times.

Financially crippled Doctors Medical Center, which is slated to close at the end of February, could possibly end up saved by one of three hospital groups or the city of San Pablo, each of which introduced proposals Wednesday to purchase the safety-net hospital and keep it running.

Here’s the basics of three of the proposals as reported by the Times: (The fourth proposal was presented after the Times’ deadline Wednesday night)

  1. City of San Pablo: The city offered $11 million to buy the hospital within the next 30 days along with a nearby plot of land worth more than $7 million, where a smaller hospital may be built (West Contra Costa Healthcare District Board Chairmen Eric Zell called it the most serious proposal).
  2. Venturata Economic Development Corp. president offered $18 million to buy the hospital, and promises to restore full services and focus on research to attract federal and state funding.
  3. Unnamed investor proposes partnering with UC Berkeley and the city of Richmond to move the hospital to Richmond’s southern shoreline area, where UC Berkeley is proposing to locate a research center.

Aside from these proposals, the healthcare district has been working to fulfill the 5×8 Plan, a five-year, eight-part proposal to preserve a full-service DMC. The plan is ambitious, however, as it seeks funding from various sources along with more cost cutting measures.

Some goals of the 5×8 plan have been achieved: An infusion of $15 million was secured from the City of Richmond, although those funds are tied to the Chevron Richmond Modernization Project and won’t be available until that project gets the legal green light to break ground.

Another success from the 5×8 plan includes $12 million in debt forgiveness from Contra Costa County, which was approved last month. But the plan still faces other significant hurdles, including 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.

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 60-year-old DMC has had financial problems for years, mainly related to servicing uninsured patients and also due to low reimbursement rates from MediCare and Medi-Cal patients.