Happy Easter Sunday! There will be happier blog posts to report, but the matter of the fiscal problems of Children's Hospital in Oakland (or "Children’s Hospital Oakland") are as important as an easter egg archive, how to tie a tie, Rachel Ray's Deviled Eggs Recipe, or the iPad 3g.
Children’s Hospital Oakland is Northern California’s only independent non-profit regional medical center for children, a national leader in many pediatric specialties, and an Oakland treasure. "Children's" is also a designated Level 1 pediatric trauma center with the largest pediatric critical care unit in Northern California.
Children's Hospital, suffering from California's terrible economy, a poor national economy, low government and private reimbursement rates, increasing healthcare costs and what it says is a "lack of public hospitals with pediatric inpatient beds," lost $26 million last year alone and $80 million over the last four years.
Children's reports that California’s high annual unemployment rate has increased the number of families covered by Medi-Cal and other government assisted programs from 60 percent to 71 percent in one year; an all time high for the facility. Children’s claims Medi-Cal reimbursement are "among the lowest in the nation" and does not cover the cost of service provided to patients.
According to Children’s Hospital Oakland President and CEO Bert Lupin, the fiscal loss has grown at "at an unsustainable rate." In the hopes of stopping a projected $15 million 2010 loss, Lupin and his staff have created a three-year plan that will reduce costs and increase revenues. Here are the plan's actions that are "under consideration":
Partnering with community clinics
Supporting existing and new programs that have the financial capability of
helping support the hospital
Renegotiating contracts with public and private insurers to get higher rates, comparable to what other local medical centers receive
Reducing the workforce, with as few layoffs as possible
Reducing the annual costs by streamlining some service lines
Seeking more state and federal funding
Children's Hospital Oakland currently employs 2,600 people and has an annual operating budget of $350 million.
It's not clear how the new Obama Health Care plan will impact Children's Hospital Oakland as of this writing, but if the comments of Dr. George Phillips, a pediatrics doctor at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in the Iowa Independent, are any indication, it can do nothing but help:
"This new law sets the benchmark for coverage for all preventive care that all children should receive. We've seen so many children in the hospital, whose medical conditions have reached an acute stage that could have either been prevented or addressed earlier in the process, had they had wellness checks."
Help Children's Hospital
Children’s Hospital Oakland is an international treasure that everyone in the California should be proud of. Oaklanders see it as children’s hospital, but equally if not more important, it is an internationally renowned research center that is creating cures for kids. We need to support this hospital for the groundbreaking work it does in discovering new treatments to prevent and to heal children here and around the World.
You can help by calling your Senator and Congressperson and asking them to help find federal funds to support Children's Hospital. You can do this regardless of where you live because of Children's Hospital Oakland's unique regional role.