Hospital Board to consider proposed orthopedics program

Hospital Board to consider proposed orthopedics program

Michele Ellson
Alameda Hospital

Managers at Alameda Hospital are asking the board that governs it for the okay to start an orthopedics program, the latest in a line of efforts aimed at building volume – and revenue – at the hospital. The board will discuss the proposal at its meeting tonight.

They’re hoping the program will help them fill operating rooms vacated by Kaiser Permanente when its contract to perform surgeries here lapsed in 2010.

The goal is to make Alameda Hospital a destination for a range of orthopedic services, including spine surgeries, joint replacements and sports medicine. The plan is predicated on the hospital inking contracts with two doctors seeking to set up orthopedic practices in Alameda, a report to the hospital’s finance subcommittee says.

“A robust orthopedics portfolio can assist the hospital to support less profitable hospital services,” hospital managers wrote in the report.

The clinic and the hospital could stand to net nearly $6.9 million from surgeries, physical therapy, exams and other services over three years, pro forma budget documents submitted to the committee show. The hospital’s managers determined that a full-time orthopedist could generate $2 million for the hospital annually.

Hospital managers said orthopedic doctors are difficult to recruit and that there aren’t enough to replace the ones that are retiring; salaries can top $500,000 a year, they said. The agreement the hospital would like to ink with the two doctors it wants to work with would pay them $300,000 each for their first year of service and $210,000 a year plus incentives for the second and third years of the contract.

The Island’s three orthopedic doctors brought fewer than 200 cases to the hospital in 2011, though one of the three brought most of those cases. Two are retirement age.

Hospital managers wrote that seniors are the largest growing segment of Alameda’s population, with the number of Alameda residents 65 or older growing by 23 percent between 2010 and 2015. According to the 2010 census, 13.5 percent of Alameda’s roughly 75,000 residents are 65 or older.

The proposed spine program is one of several managers are seeking to put in place in order to steady the hospital’s finances. The hospital was slated to take over the 120-bed Waters Edge nursing home on Sunday and is constructing a wound care center in Marina Village.