Effect on Surplus Beds Is Debated as Kaiser Dedicates Hospital

Times Staff Writer

Kaiser Permanente dedicated its $60-million Woodland Hills medical center Friday, marking the second time in a week that a new, full-service hospital has been dedicated in the Valley. Los Angeles County's 350-bed Olive View Hospital officially opened in Sylmar last Saturday.

Two hundred doctors will be assigned to work at a 212-bed hospital and an adjoining outpatient facility on 28 acres at De Soto Avenue and Burbank Boulevard, Kaiser officials said.

The center will handle about 120,000 Kaiser health maintenance organization subscribers in the West San Fernando Valley and Conejo and Simi valleys, officials said.

"The competitive marketplace requires this commitment," hospital administrator James L. Breeden told about 200 people attending dedication ceremonies outside the entrance to the five-story hospital.

Not Operating Yet

Breeden said the hospital will begin accepting patients in about two weeks.

Hospital administrators disagree over whether the new Kaiser institution will increase the already strong competition caused by a surplus of hospital beds. According to state statistics, about 40% of the beds in the Valley are vacant on an average day.

Olive View was not seen as increasing competitive pressures because it serves primarily indigent patients who went to County-USC hospital in the past.

Although some administrators expect Kaiser's new building to add to the glut, others said that as an HMO--which treats only patients who have signed up in advance for its services--Kaiser will appeal to a separate class of patients.

"The only people who go there are members of their HMO,"' said Rosie O'Meara, a spokeswoman for Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills. "They're in a different category."

Competition Feared

Others disagreed.

Tim Bradley, a spokesman for Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, said his facility expects to feel increased competition from the Woodland Hills hospital. "It will contribute to the surplus-bed situation," he said.

Dan Adams, administrator of Northridge Hospital Medical Center, said Valley hospitals that have handled overflow patients from Kaiser's Panorama City hospital will feel the pinch when those patients are sent instead to Woodland Hills.

But Kaiser spokeswoman Janice Seib said she doubts that the Woodland Hills hospital will contribute to a hospital bed glut. "This is not a fee-for-service facility that will be in competition with those hospitals," she said.

During Friday's ceremonies, Kaiser officials donated $7,350 to the Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce for setting up a cardiopulmonary resuscitation training program for students at two local high schools.

The money will be used to purchase training films and practice dummies for use at Taft and El Camino Real high schools.

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