Fight to Save Doctors San Pablo Moves to Pleasant Hill Town Hall Forum-Thursday
RNs, public say sales tax proposal good step towards fulfilling County’s obligation to provide care for indigent
Registered nurses, joined by community residents repeatedly urged the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors at their monthly meeting yesterday, to prevent the threatened closure of Doctors Medical Center (DMC) in San Pablo by taking over operation of the troubled facility.
The campaign to save the facility advances with a third town hall meeting sponsored by the California Nurses Association this Thursday June 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Community Center. The first two meetings were held in Richmond and Hercules.
The Board of Supervisors voted to commission a poll on the viability of an increase in the county sales tax, which both nurses and the public who spoke at the meeting acknowledge is a step in the right direction towards securing permanent funding. West County residents and RNs are also calling on both Chevron and Kaiser to provide regular financial assistance.
The poll will ask the voters to specify which health and safety issues they are most concerned about in Contra Costa County and if they would support either a one-quarter or half cent increase which would raise $40 million and $80 million respectively.
The RNs, members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United have been calling on the County to step up to the plate and assume responsibility for management and operation of the hospital and its emergency room. The facility could close as soon as July.
What: Town Hall Forum to Keep Doctors San Pablo Hospital Open
When: Thursday June 5, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Pleasant Hill Community Center Pavilion Room, 320 Civic Drive, Pleasant Hill, CA
“Health and safety needs throughout Contra Costa County justify a small increase in the sales tax,” said Seung Choo, a DMC RN, who attended the June 3 Board of Supervisors meeting. “Doctors Medical Center is a critical part of emergency preparedness and response for the county that must remain open to assure everyone in our community is healthy and safe.”
“We already know what will happen to if DMC closes,” said Deborah Oehrlein, an RN who works in labor and delivery at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC). “When DMC stopped providing labor and delivery services, the impact on our maternity unit was huge. Recently, Sutter Summit Alta Bates stopped accepting all but the most critical maternity patients from West County, once again CCRMC experienced a big influx of patients. A closure of DMC will have a tremendously impact on every nursing unit especially intensive care beds where there are only eight beds while DMC has 23.”
RNs note that DMC provides 60 percent of the emergency care in the region, some 40,000 patients a year and has 79 percent of the hospital beds.
CNA also cites a recent report of a 6.5 percent uptick in county finances, and the added need for patient care as a result of enrollments under the Affordable Care Act as additional indications that the county should intervene to keep the hospital open.
Additionally, the nurses have noted that the hospital serves many indigent patients and a closure would have a disparate and disproportionate impact on the health of African Americans and senior citizens in violation of their civil rights.
CNA/NNU has filed charges and is awaiting response from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights for a charge alleging unlawful discrimination by Contra Costa County and the West Contra Costa Healthcare District by the planned closure of the hospital. The complaint seeks injunctive relief from the federal government to prevent the closure of DMC.