Breaking News
December 17, 2018 - Stealth BioTherapeutics Granted Fast Track Designation for Elamipretide for the Treatment of Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration with Geographic Atrophy
December 17, 2018 - Studies reveal role of red meat in gut bacteria, heart disease development
December 17, 2018 - Eisai enters into agreement with Eurofarma for its anti-obesity agent lorcaserin
December 17, 2018 - Researchers use brain connectome to reassess neuroimaging findings of Alzheimer’s disease
December 17, 2018 - “Miracle” baby survives Ebola in Congo and rapid a new Ebola detection device
December 17, 2018 - Study finds misuse of benzodiazepines to be highest among young adults
December 17, 2018 - TGen receives PayPal grant to underwrite costs of genetic tests for children with rare disorders
December 17, 2018 - New research highlights why HIV-infected patients suffer higher rates of cancer
December 17, 2018 - Antibiotic-resistant bacteria could soon be targeted with Alzheimer’s drug
December 17, 2018 - Rutgers scientists take an important step in making diseased hearts heal themselves
December 17, 2018 - Tailored Feedback at CRC Screen Improves Lifestyle Behaviors
December 17, 2018 - Loss of two genes drives a deadly form of colorectal cancer, reveals a potential treatment
December 17, 2018 - How the Mediterranean Diet Can Help Women’s Hearts
December 17, 2018 - Sustained connections associated with symptoms of autism
December 17, 2018 - Concussion rates among young football players were higher than previously reported
December 17, 2018 - Cresco Labs granted approval to operate marijuana dispensary in Ohio
December 17, 2018 - Study provides insight into health risks facing new mothers
December 17, 2018 - AMSBIO expands Wnt signaling pathway product range to aid research
December 16, 2018 - Surgical treatment unnecessary for many prostate cancer patients
December 16, 2018 - Excess weight responsible for cancers globally finds report
December 16, 2018 - Regular sex associated with greater enjoyment of life in seniors
December 16, 2018 - Social stigma contributes to poor mental health in the autistic community
December 16, 2018 - Multidisciplinary team successfully performs complex surgery on patient suffering from enlarged skull
December 16, 2018 - Experts analyze data that can guide antidepressant discontinuation
December 16, 2018 - Menlo Therapeutics’ Successful Phase 2 Clinical Trial of Serlopitant Demonstrates Reduction of Pruritus Associated with Psoriasis
December 16, 2018 - Siblings of children with autism or ADHD are at elevated risk for both disorders
December 16, 2018 - New project aims to understand why and how metabolic disorders develop in patients
December 16, 2018 - Diets containing GM maize have no harmful effects on health or metabolism of rats
December 16, 2018 - Are doctors and teachers confusing immaturity and attention deficit?
December 16, 2018 - Hearing loss linked with increased risk for premature death
December 16, 2018 - Chromatrap buffer reagents for lysing cells offer many benefits
December 16, 2018 - Young Breast Cancer Patients Face Higher Risk for Osteoporosis
December 16, 2018 - 3-D printing offers helping hand to people with arthritis
December 16, 2018 - Community Health Choice helps manage complex and chronic care conditions
December 16, 2018 - Regular trips out could dramatically reduce depression in older age
December 16, 2018 - CWRU to use VivaLNK’s Vital Scout device for stress study in student athletes
December 16, 2018 - ‘Easy Way Out’? Stigma May Keep Many From Weight Loss Surgery
December 16, 2018 - Gout drug may protect against chronic kidney disease
December 16, 2018 - Talking about memories enhances the wellbeing of older and younger people
December 16, 2018 - Occupational exposure to pesticides increases risk for cardiovascular disease among Latinos
December 16, 2018 - A biomarker in the brain’s circulation system may be Alzheimer’s earliest warning
December 16, 2018 - Magnesium may play important role in optimizing vitamin D levels, study shows
December 16, 2018 - The effect of probiotics on intestinal flora of premature babies
December 16, 2018 - Parents spend more time talking with kids about mechanics of using mobile devices
December 16, 2018 - Biohaven Announces Positive Results from Ongoing Rimegepant Long-Term Safety Study
December 16, 2018 - Arterial stiffness may predict dementia risk
December 16, 2018 - Study explores link between work stress and increased cancer risk
December 16, 2018 - Sex work criminalization linked to incidences of violence finds study
December 16, 2018 - Johns Hopkins researchers discover swarming behavior in fish-dwelling parasite
December 16, 2018 - Schistosomiasis prevention and treatment could help control HIV
December 16, 2018 - Early postpartum opioids linked with persistent usage
December 16, 2018 - Johns Hopkins researchers identify molecular causes of necrotizing enterocolitis in preemies
December 16, 2018 - Advanced illumination expands capabilities of light-sheet microscopy
December 16, 2018 - Alzheimer’s could possibly be spread via contaminated neurosurgery
December 16, 2018 - Unraveling the complexity of cancer biology can prompt new avenues for drug development
December 16, 2018 - Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Prostate Cancer Linked
December 16, 2018 - Cannabis youth prevention strategy should target mental wellbeing
December 15, 2018 - Recent developments and challenges in hMAT inhibitors
December 15, 2018 - Sewage bacteria found lurking in Hudson River sediments
December 15, 2018 - CDC selects UMass Amherst biostatistician model that helps predict influenza outbreaks
December 15, 2018 - Researchers reveal brain mechanism that drives itch-evoked scratching behavior
December 15, 2018 - New computer model helps predict course of the disease in prostate cancer patients
December 15, 2018 - Obesity to Blame for Almost 1 in 25 Cancers Worldwide
December 15, 2018 - How the brain tells you to scratch that itch
December 15, 2018 - New findings could help develop new immunotherapies against cancer
December 15, 2018 - World’s largest AI-powered medical research network launched by OWKIN
December 15, 2018 - Young people suffering chronic pain battle isolation and stigma as they struggle to forge their identities
December 15, 2018 - Lifespan extension at low temperatures depends on individual’s genes, study shows
December 15, 2018 - New ingestible capsule can be controlled using Bluetooth wireless technology
December 15, 2018 - Researchers uncover microRNAs involved in the control of social behavior
December 15, 2018 - Research offers hope for patients with serious bone marrow cancer
December 15, 2018 - Link between poverty and obesity is only about 30 years old, study shows
December 15, 2018 - Mass spectrometry throws light on old case of intentional heavy metal poisoning
December 15, 2018 - BeyondSpring Announces Phase 3 Study 105 of its Lead Asset Plinabulin for Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia Meets Primary Endpoint at Interim Analysis
December 15, 2018 - Study finds that in treating obesity, one size does not fit all
December 15, 2018 - Tenacity and flexibility help maintain psychological well-being, mobility in older people
December 15, 2018 - Study reveals role of brain mechanism in memory recall
December 15, 2018 - High levels of oxygen encourage the brain to remain in deep, restorative sleep
December 15, 2018 - Experimental HIV vaccine strategy works in non-human primates, research shows
December 15, 2018 - Genetically modified pigs could limit replication of classical swine fever virus, study shows
Community frets as buyer for cherished rural hospital slips from view

Community frets as buyer for cherished rural hospital slips from view

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Confusion is growing in the remote Surprise Valley region of northeastern California as locals wonder whether a Denver entrepreneur will make good on his pledge to save their bankrupt rural hospital.

Surprise Valley Community Hospital, located in Cedarville, Calif., was featured in a June 6 California Healthline story illustrating the plight of strapped rural hospitals and controversial efforts by some to stay solvent through laboratory billing for patients never treated on-site.

Beau Gertz, who owns Denver-based Cadira Labs and other health-related businesses, proposed such a plan, saying faraway patients could be treated through telemedicine. Hospital district residents voted in June to approve his purchase of the 26-bed public hospital for $4 million.

But Gertz hasn’t been seen around town since late spring and websites for his Denver businesses have been shut down, including those for his labs that would presumably do the billing. Four ex-employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said they and the rest of his Colorado-based staff were laid off.

The entrepreneur’s landlord, David North, said earlier this month that Gertz’s Denver office building has been empty for weeks. Gertz did not respond to emails, texts or phone calls.

Gertz’s low profile in recent weeks has perplexed residents, some of whom struggled over the decision to sell the hospital to an outsider. Some had been suspicious because plans by a previous “white knight” — and former business associate of Gertz’s — to save the hospital through remote lab billing fell through last summer. Also, some were frustrated when Gertz said in a public meeting that he was under no obligation to provide the community with his “financials.”

“I’ve never met a businessman who operated the way he would, investing in something that’s losing money,” said Amy Beller, 63, a retired graphic designer who lives in Cedarville and had talked with Gertz at a town hall meeting. “There was nothing there to make me think he was there to help Surprise Valley. I thought he was disingenuous.”

Members of the hospital district board, which planned to meet Wednesday, have declined to comment on the status of the sale. Hospital administrator Bill Bostic said he had spoken to Gertz several times and that the sale is “on track,” but would not elaborate on the timetable or Gertz’s whereabouts.

“We’re going through a process. It’s complicated, it’s legitimate,” Bostic said. “We’re just trying to keep open, we’re not doing anything underhanded. All we’re trying to do is save our hospital.”

State officials said they have received no application from Surprise Valley to transfer ownership or management of the hospital. The state Department of Public Health must approve all such changes, a process that can take months.

Enticed by out-of-town investors, Surprise Valley and other struggling rural hospitals around the country have embraced lab billing for faraway patients as a rescue plan. That’s because Medicare and commercial insurers tend to pay more for tests to sustain endangered rural hospitals, compared with how much they pay urban hospitals and especially outpatient labs.

In general, this kind of remote billing is controversial and legally murky, and it recently has resulted in allegations of fraud in several states, according to government documents and media reports.

In the run-up to the vote, Gertz described his plan as perfectly legal. He said the hospital, after taking over one of his Denver labs, could legitimately bill for patients treated remotely through video and other telemedicine technology. The idea appealed to many Surprise Valley residents, desperate to save a facility facing imminent closure. Without a buyer, experts said, property owners in the district could have been responsible for repaying the hospital’s mounting debts — estimated at up to $4 million.

The hospital is considered crucial by many residents, largely because of its 24-hour emergency room. These days, all but two of its beds are dedicated to nursing home patients. The next nearest hospital with an ER is about 25 miles away over a mountain pass.

Janna Bennett, 61, a public health nurse who once worked for the hospital, said she still hopes Gertz will deliver on his ideas for a world-class “destination hospital” that he had promised in community meetings.

“If the deal falls through, I’ll be disappointed. I’ll be angry,” she said.

It is not clear whether one of Gertz’s investors, the Knights Genesis Group with offices in New York City, Shanghai and Beijing, continues to back him financially. Eric Cho, who answered the telephone at the firm’s New York office in late June, confirmed that Knights Genesis was working with Gertz but declined to elaborate. No one else from the company since has responded to calls or emails.

If the deal collapses and the hospital cannot find another buyer, residents say it will be a sad end for a facility that opened in 1952 and once was the pride of the community, according to Jim Laacke, a retired forester from Cedarville who once served on the hospital’s board.

“This hospital is an idea, generated by the people who were here and a doctor who was much-loved. It is a thing the community created,” Laacke said. “It’s hard to think about it just disappearing.”

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Barbara Feder Ostrov: [email protected], @barbfederostrov

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles