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Palo Alto Medical Foundation fined for failing to comply with COVID-19 testing order

Santa Clara County has issued more than $40K in fine to area hospitals

Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which is part of the Sutter Health network, was fined $8,250 for inadequately notifying patients of their right to a COVID-19 test. The foundation's Palo Alto offices are pictured above. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

Santa Clara County has issued more than $40,000 in fines to private health systems for failing to comply with its coronavirus testing order.

HCA Healthcare's Regional Medical Center in San Jose was fined $22,750 for failing to adequately notify patients of their right to a COVID-19 test.

An enforcement officer inspected the center Oct. 20, noting the hospital did not "conspicuously" post COVID-19 testing notices in 13 different rooms, according to the notice of violation.

The hospital failed to correct the violation within the county's 48-hour grace period, and the county issued the fine Oct. 27.

In addition, HCA's Good Samaritan Hospital was issued $8,500 in fines — $3,500 for inadequate notice to patients and $5,000 for failing to test a patient who met the qualifications.

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According to county officials, a registered nurse used the county's complaint portal, alleging Good Samaritan Hospital denied her a diagnostic test Oct 10.

The nurse, who was symptomatic, sought care at the hospital's emergency room and also reported to hospital staff that she had been exposed to a COVID-19 patient at her workplace. The nurse was eventually able to obtain a test through the county at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

"We are happy to report that the issue has been addressed and that signs are now posted in all required areas," Sarah Sherwood, a spokesperson for HCA Healthcare, said Nov. 27.

County Counsel James Williams announced in September the county would issue fines to private health systems for a failure to provide adequate access to COVID-19 tests.

"Private providers are still lagging significantly behind the county in the COVID-19 testing that they are providing to patients," county officials said. "Private healthcare systems are required under the Revised Testing Order to educate patients about their rights to COVID-19 testing."

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According to the county, private hospitals can accomplish this through their website, promotional materials and notices posted at physical locations.

"Once patients know their rights and providers are consistently offering tests to all categories of patients covered by the Revised Testing Order, we would expect to see a substantial increase in testing by provider," county officials said.

Four other violations of the county's testing order were corrected within the grace period and thus did not result in fines, the county said.

County public health officials have sharply criticized private hospitals for not conducting enough COVID-19 tests. In September, former Deputy County Executive David Campos blamed hospitals for the county not moving into a lower-level tier to reopen businesses.

"The county is doing its part, we are testing more than our fair share," Campos said at the time. "If these private health hospitals actually tested at the level we wanted them to test, we probably would be in the orange (tier) today."

Two other hospitals were issued fines for providing inadequate notice to patients. The county fined these centers for similar reasons — there were not enough signs posted at facilities notifying patients of their right to a COVID-19 test.

The county issued an $8,250 fine against Palo Alto Medical Foundation's Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and San Jose centers for inadequate notice to patients. The county also issued a $3,750 fine against Kaiser Permanente's San Jose Medical Center.

Palo Alto Medical Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

Irene Chavez, manager of Kaiser Permanente's San Jose Medical Center, said the company responded by placing signs in the center's emergency room ambulance bays.

According to Chavez, Kaiser's Northern California offices have collectively doubled their daily testing capacity to more than 12,000 tests per day after recently buying new lab equipment and facilities.

Santa Clara County's hospitals have conducted a vastly higher number of COVID-19 tests than those of private health systems, according to a report the county's public health department presented to the Board of Supervisors Nov. 10.

Between Nov. 2 and Nov. 8, the county conducted 18,402 tests, while Kaiser Permanente of Northern California conducted 9,370 tests.

Stanford Health Care Hospital conducted 5,416 tests, Sutter Health and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation conducted 1,928 tests and El Camino Health conducted 1,245 tests.

Dr. Christina Kong, medical director of pathology at Stanford Medicine, said the health care provider has not received any messages from the county that it needs to increase its COVID-19 testing.

Kong said Stanford Health is currently waiting on FDA approval to issue at-home self-collection kits that will be tested at their clinical virology laboratory.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said widespread testing is critical to informing public health officials on how the virus is spreading so they can advise on best practices and issue adequate health orders. People who test positive for the virus can also be isolated to prevent them for spreading the disease to others.

"We use testing in a variety of ways," Benjamin said. "If we're doing random testing, and we see a large number of people in the community who have a particular disease, we can advise those people to get tested and avoid risky activities."

This story, from Bay City News Service, was originally published on San Jose Spotlight here.

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Palo Alto Medical Foundation fined for failing to comply with COVID-19 testing order

Santa Clara County has issued more than $40K in fine to area hospitals

by /

Uploaded: Sun, Dec 6, 2020, 9:45 am

Santa Clara County has issued more than $40,000 in fines to private health systems for failing to comply with its coronavirus testing order.

HCA Healthcare's Regional Medical Center in San Jose was fined $22,750 for failing to adequately notify patients of their right to a COVID-19 test.

An enforcement officer inspected the center Oct. 20, noting the hospital did not "conspicuously" post COVID-19 testing notices in 13 different rooms, according to the notice of violation.

The hospital failed to correct the violation within the county's 48-hour grace period, and the county issued the fine Oct. 27.

In addition, HCA's Good Samaritan Hospital was issued $8,500 in fines — $3,500 for inadequate notice to patients and $5,000 for failing to test a patient who met the qualifications.

According to county officials, a registered nurse used the county's complaint portal, alleging Good Samaritan Hospital denied her a diagnostic test Oct 10.

The nurse, who was symptomatic, sought care at the hospital's emergency room and also reported to hospital staff that she had been exposed to a COVID-19 patient at her workplace. The nurse was eventually able to obtain a test through the county at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

"We are happy to report that the issue has been addressed and that signs are now posted in all required areas," Sarah Sherwood, a spokesperson for HCA Healthcare, said Nov. 27.

County Counsel James Williams announced in September the county would issue fines to private health systems for a failure to provide adequate access to COVID-19 tests.

"Private providers are still lagging significantly behind the county in the COVID-19 testing that they are providing to patients," county officials said. "Private healthcare systems are required under the Revised Testing Order to educate patients about their rights to COVID-19 testing."

According to the county, private hospitals can accomplish this through their website, promotional materials and notices posted at physical locations.

"Once patients know their rights and providers are consistently offering tests to all categories of patients covered by the Revised Testing Order, we would expect to see a substantial increase in testing by provider," county officials said.

Four other violations of the county's testing order were corrected within the grace period and thus did not result in fines, the county said.

County public health officials have sharply criticized private hospitals for not conducting enough COVID-19 tests. In September, former Deputy County Executive David Campos blamed hospitals for the county not moving into a lower-level tier to reopen businesses.

"The county is doing its part, we are testing more than our fair share," Campos said at the time. "If these private health hospitals actually tested at the level we wanted them to test, we probably would be in the orange (tier) today."

Two other hospitals were issued fines for providing inadequate notice to patients. The county fined these centers for similar reasons — there were not enough signs posted at facilities notifying patients of their right to a COVID-19 test.

The county issued an $8,250 fine against Palo Alto Medical Foundation's Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and San Jose centers for inadequate notice to patients. The county also issued a $3,750 fine against Kaiser Permanente's San Jose Medical Center.

Palo Alto Medical Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

Irene Chavez, manager of Kaiser Permanente's San Jose Medical Center, said the company responded by placing signs in the center's emergency room ambulance bays.

According to Chavez, Kaiser's Northern California offices have collectively doubled their daily testing capacity to more than 12,000 tests per day after recently buying new lab equipment and facilities.

Santa Clara County's hospitals have conducted a vastly higher number of COVID-19 tests than those of private health systems, according to a report the county's public health department presented to the Board of Supervisors Nov. 10.

Between Nov. 2 and Nov. 8, the county conducted 18,402 tests, while Kaiser Permanente of Northern California conducted 9,370 tests.

Stanford Health Care Hospital conducted 5,416 tests, Sutter Health and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation conducted 1,928 tests and El Camino Health conducted 1,245 tests.

Dr. Christina Kong, medical director of pathology at Stanford Medicine, said the health care provider has not received any messages from the county that it needs to increase its COVID-19 testing.

Kong said Stanford Health is currently waiting on FDA approval to issue at-home self-collection kits that will be tested at their clinical virology laboratory.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said widespread testing is critical to informing public health officials on how the virus is spreading so they can advise on best practices and issue adequate health orders. People who test positive for the virus can also be isolated to prevent them for spreading the disease to others.

"We use testing in a variety of ways," Benjamin said. "If we're doing random testing, and we see a large number of people in the community who have a particular disease, we can advise those people to get tested and avoid risky activities."

This story, from Bay City News Service, was originally published on San Jose Spotlight here.

Comments

Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 6, 2020 at 5:43 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 6, 2020 at 5:43 pm

[Post removed; please cite reliable sources for your assertions.]


Working Mom
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 6, 2020 at 8:57 pm
Working Mom, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 6, 2020 at 8:57 pm

In October, my child and I needed testing after air travel, and, after quite a bit of back-and-forth (very bureaucratic processes), PAMF agreed to test me but not my child, which I thought was odd. My results took four days, and no one responded to my secure messages asking about them, though a provider encounter was noted each time a message was read. We also went to a different pediatric urgent care for testing and received results in two days. Overall not a great experience with PAMF.

Recently I was advised by a work contact that I should get tested (a person from their pod tested positive), but PAMF refused to provide testing for me unless I was symptomatic or unless my contact had also tested positive. I ended up going to the Curative drive-thru in San Mateo, had a test the same day, and results in 1.5 days. Curative was a much better experience, and I would recommend them highly for easy, trouble-free testing.

I don't like the idea of fining healthcare organizations, but I do think PAMF has made it difficult for people to test at a time when we need that information.


localmom46
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Dec 6, 2020 at 11:28 pm
localmom46, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Dec 6, 2020 at 11:28 pm

I feel like PAMF is making patients jump through unnecessary hoops to get tested in order to make money. On two separate occasions, I had symptoms that could be COVID related, and requested a test in order to rule it out. Both times, they insisted I do a video visit with a doctor/ nurse practitioner before allowing me to get tested. They claim that it’s because I could have more severe symptoms that require care. I feel like this is just another way to charge my insurance with a visit. In some cases, a video visit could be necessary, but in many instances, a simple two minute conversation with a nurse or technician should have sufficed.


Jan Buck
Registered user
another community
on Dec 7, 2020 at 10:37 am
Jan Buck, another community
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2020 at 10:37 am

And lets address apprehension of those out and about not wearing masks...........especially bike riders and runners, please.


Eva_PA
Registered user
Ventura
on Dec 7, 2020 at 11:16 am
Eva_PA, Ventura
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2020 at 11:16 am

Agreed with comments above. Why do we need to do a video visit to get a test? The County has made testing super easy and fast. We have been going to the County Fairgrounds; we can get a drive-through appointment same day with no symptoms. We've gotten the last 2 test results back in less than 36 hours. Highly recommended.

Way to many hoops to jump through at PAMF. I did notice that Stanford has made testing much easier, but I like that the County & PAMF do the lower nostril swabs vs. the one that goes "all the way up".


PAMF discourage patients
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2020 at 11:55 am
PAMF discourage patients , Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2020 at 11:55 am

I agree PAMF want to discourage Covid testings. They asked tons of questions, so many steps & phone calls needed . End up I made appointment at Santa Clara County health website, it’s so easy and took 5 mins for making appointments. 5 minutes for the test itself. And we got the test results in 2 days! Don’t waste time in PAMF.


wander3r
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2020 at 12:15 pm
wander3r, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2020 at 12:15 pm

That’s an awfully large PAMF headline for a mere two sentences of PAMF misdeed information that weren’t even mentioned until the 17th paragraph of the article.


Gb4
Registered user
another community
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:13 am
Gb4, another community
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:13 am

"Jan Buck, another community
Registered user
And lets address apprehension of those out and about not wearing masks...........especially bike riders and runners, please."

Masks not required for runners able to maintain 6' space

Web Link


Gb4
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:15 am
Gb4, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:15 am

"Jan Buck stated:
And lets address apprehension of those out and about not wearing masks...........especially bike riders and runners, please."

Masks not required for runners able to maintain 6' space

https: // www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/health-orders


Gb4
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:15 am
Gb4, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:15 am

"Jan Buck stated:
And lets address apprehension of those out and about not wearing masks...........especially bike riders and runners, please."

Masks not required for runners able to maintain 6' space

www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/health-orders


Gb4
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:21 am
Gb4, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:21 am

"Jan Buck stated:
And lets address apprehension of those out and about not wearing masks...........especially bike riders and runners, please."

Masks not required for runners able to maintain 6' distance

Per Santa Clara guidelines: "Persons who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others not in their household. Such persons must have a face covering with them at all times and must put it on if they are within 6 feet of others who are not in their household."

www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/public-health-orders-faq.aspx#face-coverings


Gb4
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:22 am
Gb4, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 3:22 am

"Jan Buck stated:
And lets address apprehension of those out and about not wearing masks...........especially bike riders and runners, please."

Masks not required for runners able to maintain 6' distance

Per Santa Clara guidelines: "Persons who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others not in their household. Such persons must have a face covering with them at all times and must put it on if they are within 6 feet of others who are not in their household."

www.sccgov .org /sites/covid19/Pages/public-health-orders-faq.aspx#face-coverings


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 8, 2020 at 12:15 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Well, let's start penalizing those not wearing masks in accordance with the county guidelines. Let's start making examples of those violators before all our restaurants and small businesses disappear.


Common Sense G.
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2021 at 8:43 am
Common Sense G., another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 8:43 am

Please wear a mask even a single layer one when out exercising and riding your bike. You breath heavily and if you are infectious unknowingly (I would hope!) the virus stays in the air for 15 minutes or more and others can breath it in. Please help us as getting outside for a walk is so helpful. Fresh air is important. Let's reduce the spread even if the County or State or National health advisories aren't saying it for political reasons, economic reasons or just reasons of being afraid of people who are vehemently in denial.
As a health care provider for 30 years and trained in Emergency Medicine with all the implications of an aerosolized respiratory transmitted vascular illness with extreme effects on our health care system, I beg you to wear a mask whenever you are outside on the streets even if they don't say so. You know as well as I that the 6 feet outdoors is not going to stop this pandemic. Respect other people. At least put yourself in their shoes as you will be someday in the same position.


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