, August 16, 2011

For at least a couple of decades, the San Pablo hospital that serves the poorest of West Contra Costa's residents has struggled financially. Formerly Brookside Hospital, the Doctors Medical Center, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2008, again faces closure. This time it is due largely to a massive state budget cut. The California Medical Assistance Commission, which distributes money to financially struggling medical facilities, cut the annual subsidy for Doctors from $12 million last fiscal year to $1.2 million in the current year. "That very act put us in 90-day closure," Eric Zell, vice-chair of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District. "We will likely have a public health crisis" if Doctors closes, he said. So last week the governing board of the public, non-profit hospital agreed to place a parcel tax on a Nov. 15 mail-only ballot in hope of saving it. The tax would apply to residential and commercial properties between El Cerrito and Crockett. If voters approve the tax, homeowners would pay $47 a year, on top of an existing $52 annual parcel tax approved by voters in 2004, to keep the Doctors emergency room open.

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