The community hospitals—whether the large John Muir system in Central Contra Costa County or ValleyCare here in the Livermore Valley—have reached out to affiliate with major teaching hospitals to bring enhanced services to their communities.
ValleyCare, for instance, has an affiliation with the UC Davis cancer center that gives valley physicians and their patients access to researchers and specialists dealing with state-of-the-art treatments without leaving Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton.
ValleyCare also pioneered affiliations with improved children’s and infant services working with both Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (affiliated with Stanford University) and Children’s Hospital in Oakland before settling into a long term partnership with the University of California San Francisco and its Benioff Children’s Hospital. Through the partnership, babies can be cared for in the Pleasanton neonatal unit by UCSF neonatologists and pediatric hospital specialists.
Over in Fremont, Washington Hospital has a partnership with Packard as well, while John Muir’s new facility in Walnut Creek includes a major commitment to pediatric care again affiliated with Packard. The new facility has a 35-bed neonatal intensive care unit as well as a 16-bed unit designed to care for children with complicated medical issues. In both cases, specialists from Packard will be available so children will not have to leave their local hospital.
It’s notable that Benioff based in San Francisco and Packard, based in Palo Alto, sought and established partnerships along the I-680 corridor. It leaves Children’s in Oakland isolated along the I-880 corridor and also certainly serving a higher number of uninsured patients than those in the eastern suburbs.
The same type of maneuver occurred in Dublin where the Sutter Health-affiliated Palo Alto Medical Group established a practice at Dublin Boulevard and Tassajara Road less than a mile from ValleyCare’s Medical Center and the adjoining physicians’ offices at Santa Rita Road and Las Positas Boulevard.
It’s notable that all of this positioning started well before Obamacare passed. Just what the implications are should that continue to be the law of the land remains an open question, but some direction likely will be clearer after Nov. 6 when it likely will be known who sits in the White House to say nothing of which party controls the houses of Congress.
There is, however, no question that doctors and hospitals alike find serving the well-insured suburbs good business. That’s led to impressive clusters of quality physicians practicing in community hospital environments instead of the teaching hospitals, which is great for patients who would like quality treatment near or in their home town.