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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Nurse Staffing Law Cited in Hospital Closure

Nurse Staffing Law Cited in Hospital Closure


Staff Reporter

Is the state’s landmark nurse staffing law hurting patient access to care?

That’s the take of the hospital industry following the announced closure last week of Northridge Hospital Medical Center’s Sherman Way campus, which serves a large percentage of poor and uninsured patients.

The planned closure of the San Fernando Valley facility, which won’t take place for at least three months, marks the fifth L.A. County hospital that has closed its entire facility or emergency room this year.

The cost of meeting the new law, which went into effect Jan. 1, was cited as a factor in most of the closures. It has required hospitals to hire more nurses.

“All these situations are beginning to prove that these ratios are far too restrictive,” said Jan Emerson, a spokeswoman for the California Healthcare Association, an industry trade group.

Officials with the Northridge hospital’s owner, San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West, cited the nurse staffing law as among several factors that have caused $12 million in losses over the last year.

Among other factors: a general shortage of technical employees that has raised total salary costs and inadequate reimbursement from the Medi-Cal and Medicare programs. The hospital also will have to spend $12 million to meet new state seismic standards.

A spokesman for the California Nurses Association, which sponsored the nurse staffing law, the first of its kind in the nation, reacted angrily to the hospital association’s position. “To try and blame safe staffing is outrageous. It’s a pretext,” said spokesman Chuck Idelson.

Emerson said the hospital association continues to talk to the governor’s office about relaxing the ratios, but has decided not to appeal a Superior Court lawsuit it lost earlier this year against the state over the new law.

The closures of local hospitals have worried county officials because of the loss of bed and emergency room capacity. This closure was not considered as bad as others because the hospital is 1 & #733; miles from Valley Presbyterian Hospital, which plans to open up a newly built tower that will expand its bed capacity to about 380 from 290. It also plans to expand its emergency room capacity.

Catholic Healthcare plans to sell the hospital to Thousand Oaks-based Selleck Development Corp., co-developer of the former General Motors Van Nuys assembly plant into a retail outlet and industrial park.

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