French Camp, CA — San Joaquin General Hospital is set to become more efficient and patient-friendly, thanks to a $4.5 million fund injection approved by the county for continued improvements in management and administration services.
The San Joaquin Board of Supervisors unanimously decided on October 24 to extend the Management Services Agreement with Dignity Health, signaling further enhancements to the hospital's operations and care quality. This financial commitment is part of an ongoing partnership that began in 2022 and is slated to extend through June 30, 2025.
Under this agreement, Richard Castro took the helm as CEO of San Joaquin General Hospital through CommonSpirit Health—a collaborative venture between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. With a leadership background from another Dignity Health facility, Castro brings valuable experience to the table.
Significant financial and operational milestones have been achieved since the partnership's inception, including substantial savings in pharmacy and supply costs. Abe Nuñez's December 2022 appointment as chief financial officer has also been critical in steering the hospital toward fiscal responsibility.
The implementation of the 3M CodeAssist tool is a noteworthy stride towards economic efficiency, enhancing the accuracy of billing codes derived from physician reports and subsequently expected to yield both revenue and productivity gains.
San Joaquin General Hospital's Quality Improvement Program lists advancements such as the appointment of Zainab Wardak as the new deputy director of nursing and remarkable reductions in hospital-acquired infections. These measures reflect the rigorous standards and compliance efforts, including those from Infection Control and Risk Management teams, which have successfully lowered the rates of various infections significantly.
Looking to the future, the hospital has integrated MIDAS, a comprehensive quality reporting system, which plays a crucial role in evaluating ongoing professional practices and reporting core measures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Amidst the adoption of new technologies, staff members are navigating the learning curve associated with this system's transition.
Ambitiously, SJGH aims to upgrade its LeapFrog Hospital Survey rating from a sustained "F" to an "A" by the end of 2024. Currently holding a "high C," the hospital is working diligently to improve in areas where it has lagged, like Pediatric and Patient-Centered Care.
While facing scrutiny over its billing practices and past litigations involving patient lawsuits, SJGH remains a pivotal provider of safety-net health care in San Joaquin County. With a history dating back to 1857 and a robust residency program, SJGH is a cornerstone for training physicians and servicing a community wherein a vast majority of patients depend on Medicare or Medi-Cal.
The funds are part of a strategic move to elevate the hospital's standards to meet and exceed current health care needs, ensuring that quality medical care is accessible to all residents of San Joaquin County.
This report was supported by Vivienne Aguilar, health equity reporter for CVJC, with data analysis by Zhaozhou Dai of The Center for Public Integrity & CVJC.