News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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S.F. gives OK for CPMC to start getting permits
San Francisco Chronicle

California Pacific Medical Center’s proposed massive expansion in San Francisco won approval Thursday to begin getting permits to build and renovate five medical facilities. However, members of the Planning Commission signaled in their 5-2 vote that they expect the final plan to address issues ranging from funding to traffic before they give it their full blessing.

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$350M CMH project will meet deadline
Pacific Coast Business Times

Half a year after ground broke on Ventura’s new Community Memorial Hospital, the $350   million construction project is on track to lay its foundation this summer and open its doors by 2015. The catalyst for the project was a state seismic mandate that requires all acute-care hospitals in California to rebuild or retrofit their buildings to meet certain earthquake standards, but Michael Ellingson, vice president of marketing and development for Community Memorial Health System, said there are a few reasons the hospital was in need of a facelift anyway.

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SVMH narrows merger options
The Californian - Salinas

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) will move forward on a process that could end with a joining of forces with either Natividad Medical Center (NMC) or Hospital Corporation of America (HCA Healthcare).

On a 4-1 vote, the board of directors on Wednesday night voted to move forward to stage two of a possible affiliation with another health care organization. Nathan Olivas voted “no” after earlier asking why public meetings could not be held before going forward.

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Kaiser taps two winners in its small hospital contest
San Francisco Business Times

After much hoopla, Kaiser Permanente late last month named the winners in its American Idol-like “Small Hospital, Big Ideas” design competition, a nearly yea-long competition that attracted 108 entries from all over the world. But more important than the winners for Kaiser is the fact that it collected design ideas from dozens of top architecture, design and engineering firms. Ultimately, two of the three finalists ended up tying for the top spot: the San Bruno-based Aditazz architecture firm and a tag team of San Francisco’s Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch engineering firm and arch

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Neglect, health concerns envelope poor county areas in California
Sacramento Bee

Nearly every day, Modesto Junior College student Arleen Hernandez battles an aging septic tank that backs up into her toilet and shower, bringing with it “bits of paper and chunks of mold.”

Hernandez has learned to take quick showers and work swiftly with a mop.

When Hernandez’s parents moved to Parklawn in 1986, they didn’t realize the extent to which their new neighborhood, an island of county land within the city of Modesto, lacks basic public services.

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CPMC strike linked to new hospital
SFBG

I stopped by the picket line outside Davies hospital and chatted with the members of Operating Engineers Local 39, who have been working without a contract since October, 2010 — and I heard a story that ought to be part of the discussion over CPMC’s plans to build a shiny new hospital on Cathedral Hill.

The striking engineers (who operate and maintain machinery and equipment at the hospitals) say the only remaining issue in the dispute is pay scale — and the last, best offer that CPMC, a Sutter Health affiliate, has put on the table is lower than what Sutter pays members of the sa

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Colossal Disaster for Minorities if Supreme Court Scraps Health Law
EGP

There was never much doubt that if the Supreme Court ever got a chance to decide the constitutionality of the health care reform law that it would be in for rough sledding from the court’s five conservatives. The three days of court questioning on the law more than bore out that dire prediction.

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Hospitals Working to Improve Patient Stays, Experiences
KGO

Imagine lying in a hospital bed, afraid, stuck repeatedly with needles to draw blood for tests you don’t understand. Next to you lies another patient — in a bed so close that each of you hears everything the other has to go through. This is the reality for many hospitalized adults in the U.S. In a New York Times editorial, Dr. Perri Klass, professor of journalism and pediatrics at New York University, laments this state of affairs and offers wisdom from the pediatric community to illustrate how small changes could make a big difference.

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Booming medical school brings life to downtown Pomona
Los Angeles Times

The economic downturn was tough on the urban core of many U.S. cities. But Pomona got a booster shot from an unlikely source: Western University of Health Sciences.

The institution constructed a new clinic and a classroom building as part of a $110-million expansion. The school had previously rehabilitated existing retail space in Pomona’s once-blighted center. Its Health Professions Center, for example, is a renovated former Buffum’s department store. Nearby, a building that once held a JCPenney houses the University Research Center.

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Painkiller sales soar around U.S. and fuel addiction
USA Today

Sales of the nation’s two most popular prescription painkillers have exploded in new parts of the country, an Associated Press analysis shows, worrying experts who say the push to relieve patients’ suffering is spawning an addiction epidemic. From New York’s Staten Island to Santa Fe, N.M., Drug Enforcement Administration figures show dramatic rises between 2000 and 2010 in the distribution of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Some places saw sales increase sixteenfold.

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Where Would Consumers, Insurers Land if ACA Is Struck Down?
California Healthline

California officials have been quick and confident in their assertions that the state should move forward with health care reform no matter what the Supreme Court decides about the Affordable Care Act. But what about insurers? The reform law promised up to 30 million new customers for health insurance — more than six million in California. If the Supreme Court rules that requiring citizens to have insurance is unconstitutional, where will that leave insurers?

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Aetna proceeds with health insurance hike for small businesses
Sacramento Bee

Despite criticism from the state insurance commissioner and several statewide consumer groups, Aetna said Thursday it’s going ahead with a recent hike in health care premiums for small businesses.

Aetna’s new increases, which average 8 percent annually and took effect April 1, were deemed “unreasonable” this week by state Department of Insurance Commissioner David Jones. He said it’s the first time a California health insurer has proceeded with an increase after it’s been labeled as excessive by the department.

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Toward Universal Health Coverage
New York Times

Two recent events underscore the disparity between the United States and the rest of the world on health coverage. Last week, American reactions to the Supreme Court hearings showed how deeply divided the nation is on the subject. This week, at an international forum in Mexico City, country delegates from around the globe made clear that they are not only aiming for universal coverage but also rapidly getting there.

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Will Doctors or Patients Bend the Cost Curve?
The Health Care Blog

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and nine other professional medical societies announced that doctors should perform 45 tests and procedures less often than currently done because there is no good medical evidence that they add any value.

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Inside UCSF’s Mission Bay hospital
San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco Medical Center is making rapid progress on its new 289-bed, $1.52 billion women’s, children’s and cancer specialty hospital at Mission Bay, which will include the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Cindy Lima, UCSF’s point person on the massive construction project, recently gave the San Francisco Business Times and photographer Spencer Brown a tour of the construction site. UCSF and construction partners, including DPR Construction, Stantec Architecture and construction management company Cambridge CM, among others, “topped off” the steel superstructure last October, and are working now to put the “skin” on those bones.

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California Regulator Criticizes Aetna Rate Increase As ‘Unreasonable’
The Wall Street Journal

A California insurance regulator ruled that an Aetna Inc. health-insurance rate increase was “unreasonable,” in the latest salvo of a long-running debate in the state over the cost of coverage. The announcement by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones focused on a boost that affects small-group plans and became effective April 1. It was the first time the department has officially used a new ability, granted under a state law that took effect at the beginning of 2011, to call out rates as unreasonable.

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Waist Size Helps Predict Heart Risk in Teenagers
New York Times

Using waist measurements together with body mass index may better predict a teenager’s cardiovascular risk than using B.M.I. alone, a new study finds. Pediatricians and medical groups routinely use B.M.I. as a measure of unhealthy weight in children. But the index, calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in meters, cannot differentiate between fatty and lean tissue. So an athletic, muscular teen could be classified as overweight or obese using B.M.I. alone.

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