East Bay News

Doctors Medical Center in danger of closing, again

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A cut in state funding has pushed an East Bay hospital to the brink of closure, yet again.

A newly-completed study looks at the impacts the possible closure of Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, which serves a quarter of a million people in West Contra Costa County. The impacts would be especially great for the 40,000 patients who visit the emergency room there each year.

Due to a series of health setbacks, Alicia Escobar visits Doctors Medical Center often. For her, it's a good thing the hospital is just four blocks from her San Pablo home.

"It's really hard for me because I live by myself," said Escobar. "If this is not close enough, it would take you lots of travel."

But now, after pulling itself out of bankruptcy three years ago, the hospital is in danger of closing again. That's after state lawmakers pulled the plug on $12 million per year in supplemental funding.

"This is a change that's happened unexpectedly and it's happened quickly and it's really what's driven the financial crisis that we're experiencing right now," said Doctor's Hospital president Dawn Gideon.

The hospital can't survive without the state funding because 80 percent of its patients are either on Medi-Cal or Medicare, 10 percent have private insurance and the rest can't pay at all.

"We are meeting with the state later this week to explore continuation of state funding and continuing our discussions with other area hospitals and we're optimistic that we can continue to get support," said Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia.

Not everyone favors keeping the hospital open. A spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Taxpayers Association told ABC7 that while she recognizes the value the hospital brings to the local community, if it can't sustain itself then perhaps it should close and it should be replaced by an urgent care facility, and the most critically ill patients then transferred to the county hospital in Martinez.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
san pablo, economy, east bay news, laura anthony
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