Coastal Post Online

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

**** COASTALPOST'S LOGO ****

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

November, 2004

 

Marin General Still In Certification Jeopardy

By Karen Nakamura

   Election day is here again and the political future one of the Marin County's more contentious boards is again being decided. In this case, five candidates are running for the Marin Healthcare District Board. Three candidates, Sharon Jackson, Terry Rosenthal and Judy House have long histories of conducting business and being part of/with either Sutter Health or similar health care administrations. They solidly support greater consolidation between Sutter Health Care and Marin General Hospital.
   Two other candidates are opposed to Sutter's operations and apparently for good reason. These two are Jonathan Frieman and Dr. Archimedes Ramirez. Frieman, with a MPA, will promote "the improved health care and corporate responsibility vital in requiring Sutter to fulfill its obligations to provide the best care at reasonable fees." Dr. Ramirez was the neurosurgeon who alerted the public to Sutter's failure to provide neurosurgical emergency care at MGH. He states in his press release, "Jonathan Frieman and I will make improved quality of care our immediate priority."
   Why is this important and not just politicians spouting off?
   Several months ago, the COASTAL POST discussed a report on Sutter/Marin General Hospital's numerous health code violations. The violations were cited by official state and federal hospital certification boards connected to the national and state Departments of Health Services and found when inspectors were either conducting routine inspections or responding to complaints.
   The violations might very well affect Sutter's ability to service Medicare patients, a huge segment of their patients. What will Marin's elderly do if Marin General can no longer accept Medicare patients? Desertification could also affect Novato Hospital as it's run by Sutter along with hospitals throughout California. While government officials have engaged in a series of compliance reviews, Sutter hasn't fully complied. A second review found even more violations..
   A version of these violations was released September 1st by the Marin Safe Healthcare Coalition and begs review. The consequences and implications are staggering while solutions, so far, (the final October 16th deadline for compliance has come and gone with no acknowledgment by Sutter), Sutter Health has been less than adequate. Even though Sutter was cited over a hundred times in the two inspection reports and with its Medicare status in jeopardy, it has shown little public inclination to reverse the situation in its entirety. Instead, it continues running costly ads purporting to show the satisfaction of its staff and patients. However, if patients knew what was going on around them, one must wonder if that satisfaction would hold.
   Here are some violations exposed by the Marin Safe Healthcare Coalition ([email protected]). Consider the position of the candidates as you do.
   Sutter/MGH charges Kaiser trauma patients twice what it charges other insurance carriers. It charges uninsured patients 200% more than those who have insurance. Blue Shield claims Sutter charges 80% more than the average in California.
   There was Sutter/MGH management failure leading to a padlocked, emergency cardiac arrest cart rather than the typical breakable seal. This resulted in making prompt access impossible in life-threatening situations. Medications were stored at higher, unsafe temperatures predisposing the growth of infectious bacteria. Patients' food was kept in unsanitary conditions. Dishes were washed in warm rather than hot water leading to the risk of food born contagious illnesses.
   Patients with swallowing problems were fed incorrect diets that could lead to aspiration pneumonia due to choking. There was no mechanism for timely dispensing of medications with one instance where a patient waited seven hours for medication. There was an unreported case of a patient being sexually harassed by a staff member. Nurses weren't always checked to ensure they knew medical procedures. An incontinent elderly patient wasn't changed for several days. Tests were given to patients whose doctors never ordered them. A patient died when a morphine drip wasn't regulated properly. Another patient didn't get their medication for 7 hours. There was improper care, which led to the death of an infant in childbirth.      
   These are not a bunch of nuts charging these violations. These come from the Department of Health. Look again at the positions of the candidate and get out and vote.

 

 

Coastal Post Home Page