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Burbank Hospital Pins Hopes on Renovation

Burbank Community Hospital, whose image was tarnished when a county investigation turned up serious health-care deficiencies in 1987, could be closed or sold if major renovations and a public relations campaign do not stem a steady decline in the number of patients, hospital officials said.

Hospital Administrator William Daniel said the $300,000 in improvements, which include painting the hospital as well as installing new carpeting and furniture, are crucial to attracting more patients. Hospital records show that the average daily number of patients coming to the 103-bed facility has dropped from 48 in 1984 to 33 in 1989.

“We have a break-even point at 35 or 36 patients,” Daniel said. “But over time, that’s not good enough for this hospital to really make it.

“If we can’t re-establish an economic relationship with the community, then we have to look at the predictable set of options,” which could include closing the facility or selling it, he said.

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Burbank Community Hospital, which is run by a nonprofit foundation and has an annual operating budget of $12 million, lost $1.3 million in 1988 and is expected to lose about $1 million this year, Daniel said. The hospital has been forced to dip into its cash reserves, about $2.5 million, to keep itself going and to pay for the renovation.

Daniel said several factors are responsible for the decline in patients: poor planning by the hospital, a recent increase in outpatient services throughout the health-care industry, the proximity of the larger and better equipped St. Joseph Medical Center and--eclipsing them all--the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ investigation, which was brought on by complaints of improper and inadequate emergency care of a homeless man.


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