The president of the financially plagued Doctors Medical Center San Pablo governing board didn’t sugarcoat things at Tuesday night’s emergency Richmond city council meeting.
“We’re projected to run out of money in May,” Eric Zell said. “The only way we have survived in the six years that I’ve been there is with the help of others.”
With the hospital facing a $20 million budget deficit, hospital representatives asked Kaiser Northern California for immediate bridge funding to keep its doors open.
“We only get cents on the dollar for the services we provide,” Zell said. “We’re running out of options to subsidize the needs of the community.”
The Richmond city council adopted a resolution urging Kaiser to support Doctors Medical Center by a 5-0 vote.
“It’s important we make sure that Kaiser follows through so that Doctors Medical Center remains open,” said councilmember Jael Myrick, who co-sponsored the resolution along with Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and councilmember Jim Rogers.
Myrick said that if Doctors Medical Center’s emergency room closes, wait times at Kaiser’s emergency room could spike from about one hour to nearly 12 hours.
“We can’t allow this to happen without saying something,” he said.
Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, who also serves on the hospital’s governing board, said Doctors Medical Center is losing between $15 million and $20 million annually.
When the hospital faced an approximate $17 million fiscal crisis in 2006, Kaiser stepped in and provided them with $12 million over three years. Gioia said Kaiser is considering supporting the struggling hospital once again.
“They’ve been helpful in the past,” he said. “They understand the impact to their emergency room.”
Myrick said an immediate cash influx was needed for the hospital, but also stressed the importance of a long-term solution to fix its financial issues.
Gioia said the hospital was looking into another parcel tax on residents, in addition to the existing two that were approved by voters in recent years.
When Vice Mayor Corky Boozé asked about seeking assistance from the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, who own and operate Casino San Pablo, Zell said representatives met with them.
“We’re asking everybody we can for support,” he said.
Gioia said Kaiser is still considering the hospital’s proposal and representatives will visit each west county city council to seek support on the matter.
Rogers and councilmember Nat Bates were not in attendance Tuesday.