Contra Costa Times: Brown signs bill for $3 million to Doctors Medical Center

blogimage.jpgSAN PABLO--Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Saturday afternoon, providing $3 million in one-time funding for cash-strapped Doctors Medical Center, West Contra Costa County's only public hospital.

The hospital was facing closure because of an $18 million annual budget deficit and has cut services over the past few months in an attempt to stay open as long as possible. On Aug. 7, the emergency room -- which represented 62 percent of emergency room capacity in West County -- closed to ambulance traffic and has been operating with less staff and services for walk-in patients only.

West Contra Costa Healthcare District, which owns and operates DMC, released a report earlier this week that said the most likely possibility for salvaging services in the area would be by closing the hospital and providing a satellite emergency room or advanced urgent care facility in its place.

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, who with state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, helped get the bill before Brown, said in a phone interview Saturday that she hopes the money will buy time for the district to find another solution.

"I would like to see hospital remain open," Skinner said, "That's what residents want, that's what the doctors and nurses want. This lifeline provides us some time to see where else we might be able to secure funding to continue these hospital services."

The bill, SB 883, goes into effect immediately, meaning the $3 million lifeline is now available for DMC. Skinner estimated that the extra funding would keep the hospital open in its current state until the end of January or February.

Reposted from the Contra Costa Times.

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