Rural California Hospital In Modoc County Looking for a State Bail Out
Posted Aug 22 2010 12:57am
Last week California rolled out the largest telehealth network in the US and this facility in the rural area of California could certainly be one to perhaps take advantage if rolled in.
This hospital is in northern California where the next closest hospital is 20 miles away and there’s heavy snow and mountain roads to get there. The operating room of the hospital sits vacant. The hospital had used money in other areas of the budget to keep the hospital going and this is a bone of contention among some with stating this should not have been done, but if funds are going to be abused for any reason, keeping a hospital open I don’t think is a crime and some new road construction projects were put on hold.
One doctor travels to the medical center one week per month to serve as an emergency room physician and radiologist states the facility is needed for the community.
Ironically enough the small county is primarily Republican who pride themselves on self reliance and here it’s not coming together that way. Ambulance services and the senior rest home attached are also in jeopardy of being closed with people not having anywhere else to go. BD
ALTURAS, CALIF. — Modoc County is wedged into California's far northeastern corner, a land apart from much of the rest of the nation's most populous state.
Little visited, the sparsely populated region of cave-riddled lava beds, sagebrush-covered plains and rolling ranch land has much in common with the rural areas of Oregon and Nevada that it adjoins.
Yet deep financial troubles tied to the county-owned hospital — the community's sole medical facility — have led Modoc County to the steps of the state Capitol and to the threshold of bankruptcy. Approaching Sacramento, hat in hand, at a time when the state itself has profound budgetary problems has cast the county in the glare of unwanted attention.
But the facility has been bleeding money for more than 15 years, with annual deficits ranging from $600,000 to $2.8 million in recent years, and the county has gone broke trying to keep the doors open. Monica Derner, interim chief executive officer of the hospital, says the financial trouble stems from mistakes made in the hospital's billing practices and a former administrator's decision to hire costly traveling nurses and doctors instead of retaining local staff.
The level of care at the hospital has already been affected. The hospital no longer delivers babies or performs surgeries. The surgeon left, and the hospital could no longer afford to have an anesthesiologist on staff.
Dr. Martin Kernberg, who travels to the medical center one week per month to serve as an emergency room physician and radiologist, said the facility is critical to those who need emergency care and can't wait the hour it would take to reach another hospital.