[Dec. 19, 2017] OAKLAND, Calif. – Healthcare workers recently filed ballot initiatives in five Bay Area cities for the November 2018 election that seek to improve patient care and lower prices at facilities owned by Stanford Health and other providers.
“People who live and work in these communities should be able to go to their local hospital or clinic without fear that they’ll rack up huge bills or get sick at the same time,” said Chuck Fonseca, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Stanford University Medical Center. “We are sponsoring these ballot initiatives to hold Stanford Health and other healthcare providers accountable for providing quality care and get costs under control.”
Similar ballot initiatives were filed last week in Emeryville, Livermore, Pleasanton and Redwood City and another will be filed this week in Palo Alto. Stanford Health’s flagship facility – Stanford University Medical Center – is based in Palo Alto and the company owns physicians clinics in the other four cities. Under the proposed initiatives, healthcare facilities in those communities would be limited from charging patients more than 15 percent above the actual cost of providing care.
According to state records, Stanford University Medical Center charges considerably more than other hospitals in the Bay Area and California for the same services. For example, it charges nearly $73,000 more than the statewide average to treat a patient for alcohol or drug abuse, $60,000 more to treat a patient with kidney failure, and nearly $46,000 more to treat a patient with chest pain.
At the same time, patient infection rates are increasing at Stanford University Medical Center and workers say it must be addressed before the health system brings similar problems to East Bay communities. Workers point to understaffing, lack of training, and the failure of hospital executives to listen to workers’ concerns as the cause.
Stanford University Medical Center scored far worse than the national benchmark for patients acquiring Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), a contagious infection that causes severe diarrhea. The number of patients who contracted C. diff. at the hospital and died jumped from 12 in 2011 to 26 in 2014.
Over a three-year period ending June 30, 2016, the hospital reported 524 C. diff. infections, or an average of 174 patients a year. Stanford’s figures were worse than the seven other teaching hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013 and 2014, and as a result the federal government reduced its Medicare payments to the hospital two years in a row.
More than 1,800 Stanford University Medical Center employees are members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).