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Nurses' Union File Complaints Over Closure of Doctors Medical Center

The union is planning several town hall meetings this month and in June.

Unions representing nurses and other workers at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo have filed federal civil rights complaints against Contra Costa County and the West Contra Costa Healthcare District over imminent plans to close the public hospital.
 
The California Nurses Association and National Nurses United filed the complaints last week with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights ahead of the hospital's closure, which is expected to happen as early as July.

The plans for closure come after the failure earlier this month of Measure C, a parcel tax the healthcare district hoped would allow it to keep DMC open until a more permanent funding solution was found.
 
The complaints allege that the planned closure of DMC amounts to discrimination on behalf of the county and the healthcare district since the hospital serves mostly uninsured or underinsured patients, many of whom are black or senior citizens.
 
The unions are seeking injunctive relief from the U.S. government in order to avert the hospital's closure. Karen Davis of Pinole, a case manager and registered nurse at DMC, said the hospital's closure would "have a catastrophic effect" on the community.
 
"I help our patients, who often don't have health coverage, get on Medicaid or Medi-Cal," she said. "The health emergency a closure would cause in West Contra Costa County is incomprehensible."
 
Contra Costa County supervisors acknowledged at their meeting last week that shuttering the hospital would constitute a public health emergency but said the county health department's own $20 million deficit has left it unable to save DMC.

Meanwhile, nurses' groups, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and other community leaders say it is incumbent on the county and the healthcare district to find a way to save the hospital. To not do so would mean the county is failing to meet the obligations of the California Welfare and Institutions code, which states that counties have a duty to provide healthcare to the poor, indigent and disabled, said California Nurses Association spokeswoman Sue Fendley.
 
The hospital's closure will mean that the 80,000 patients seen at DMC yearly will have to turn to Kaiser Permanente's Richmond medical center or to the next nearest hospitals in Martinez or Berkeley for care, according to DMC officials.

"As an emergency room nurse at DMC for over a decade, I know that whether you have insurance or not, DMC is relied on by every person in West County in a healthcare emergency," said Laddie Belmonte, RN.

The California Nurses Association and National Nurses United have organized a series of town hall meetings to discuss the impending closure and the steps they're taking to prevent it.
 
The first meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Easter Hill United Methodist Church at 3911 Cutting Blvd in Richmond. Two additional meetings will be held on May 29 and June 5.

—By Bay City News
SalthePlumber May 22, 2014 at 06:47 PM
Hooray for the CNA! There is no more Progressive Organization than a Labor Union. Especially one that is unafraid to ask the questions and pressure the politicians. The CNA represents Nurses, but by their actions they are representing the West County Community as a whole. More power to them.
Susan May 22, 2014 at 09:52 PM
I don't understand why the uninsured even exist now with the Affordable Care Act. Isn't everyone supposed to have insurance?
Nick May 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM
You can still be uninsured under the ACA, you just pay a fine. But only 10% of the hospital's patients are uninsured. The bigger problem is that most of the patients have Medicare and Medical, which offer lower reimbursement rates than private health insurance. So the hospital has less money than a hospital with mainly private insurance patients would.
Teresa May 23, 2014 at 06:17 PM
Its the people running the hospital that are bleeding it dry. Some of them travel out of state each week to see their families, who pays for that? NOT THEM!!! Who pays for their gas, cars, local hotels & food..we do! A couple of them are too good to stay in local hotels so they stay in Emeryville. I could go on and on but what difference will it make until they are all gone nothing will change. We need people from the community running the hospital because those people would care about the hospital and community not people from out of state or out of towners! Sorry for the venting it all just makes me mad!

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