The Rise of Quality Health Care in Southern California
The state of California has always prided itself as being a leader rather than a follower in the United States. Those who live in Southern California generally enjoy a high quality of life, but at one time there was a belief that the standard of medical care received was lower than you might expect. In the decade from 1996 to 2006, 82 hospitals closed in the state of California; 42 of those closures occurred in the Hospital Association of Southern California region. This did not seem to bode well for the region, especially because the number of inpatients actually rose during that period.
There was a danger of Southern California falling into the same trap as other regions with understaffed and underfunded hospitals. However, the times are certainly changing, as new medical facilities have opened in SoCal over the last few years, and these institutions have changed the way health care in Southern California is being perceived. Now it is an area known for excellent hospitals, surgeons, and facilities with access to better equipment than almost anywhere else in the nation.
Tri-City Medical Center – Oceanside, North San Diego County
Tri-City Medical Center was first opened in 1961 and is a full-service Gold Seal-approved hospital with almost 400 beds and 500 physicians. The medical team practices in an incredible 60 specialties, so clearly no matter what your malady is, the staff at TCMC can help. TCMC has grown to meet the needs of the increasing population of North County residents, but the main thing to note about the hospital is the development of innovative new techniques.
At the Cutting Edge
TCMC is one of SoCal’s leaders in terms of minimally invasive surgeries and offers the following surgery services to patients:
- Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System: It is possible for TCMC surgeons to make small incisions with the help of this system, which uses a magnified high-definition 3D system and tiny wristed instruments that can rotate and bend farther than a surgeon’s wrist. The result is surgery with an unparalleled level of accuracy and control. This minimally invasive surgery drastically cuts a patient’s recovery time.
- Mazor Robotic Renaissance System: This new technological marvel has transformed the way spinal surgery is conducted. Instead of being forced to complete difficult surgery by hand, TCMC surgeons can now perform highly accurate surgery to within 1.5 mm. It is now used for thousands of surgeries worldwide ranging from minor surgery to major spinal deformity cases.
- NavioPFS – Partial Knee Replacement: This is an orthopaedic surgical system that is used for partial knee replacements and is a key component of the Tri-City Medical Center Orthopaedic & Spine Institute. Instead of a full knee replacement, which may lead to a lengthy period of recovery, this system adds an implant to one side of a patient’s knee. Only one other hospital in the entire United States utilizes the NavioPFS system.
TCMC can also assist you whether you need heart care, women’s care, or cancer treatment, and thanks to its emergency services, you can have 24/7 access to the hospital. One of the areas in which Tri-City Medical Center excels is its patient care; those who have spent time in the hospital have noted the incredible attention to detail of the staff, along with a genuine warmth and friendliness seldom found elsewhere.
As well as having full access to a wide range of services and equipment, patients are also given support by the TCMC staff, a process that intensifies when you really need it most.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center – West Hollywood
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is ranked one of the top medical facilities in the United States and is part of the world-renowned Cedars-Sinai Health System. It employs approximately 12,000 people, including 2,000 physicians, and has 958 beds at the time of writing. The center is ranked Number 13 in the country according to U.S. News & World Report and is well-known for the level of research projects that take place there. There is currently an incredible 800 research projects taking place at this moment in time.
Programs and Services
One of the top facilities at Cedars-Sinai is the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, which is ranked inside the nation’s top 30 cancer institutes. The center prides itself in providing patients with a specific treatment plan that involves not only comprehensive clinical care but also a holistic approach, and this combination has yielded amazing results.
An example of the innovation found at Cedars-Sinai lies in the new vaccine that has been found to lengthen the survival time of patients diagnosed with glioblastoma. It is the most aggressive malignant brain tumor, but the vaccine, which is part of an experimental immune-based therapy, increased the medial survival time of patients from just over 14 months on average to more than 38 months. The findings were published in 2012, and while it is still early, there is hope with this vaccine.
Cedars-Sinai also has one of the top 10 orthopaedic centers in the country, specializes in the treatment of sports injuries, and offers total joint replacement. One of the center’s top procedures is its minimally invasive arthroscopic hip surgery.
At one time, surgeons had to cut through the skin and tissue of patients and dislocate the joint. This caused considerable damage and led to lengthy and sometimes painful periods of convalescence. Now it is possible to create a tiny puncture wound and insert a pencil-sized optical device into the hip or knee joint. With the aid of the camera, surgeons now know where the problems lie, and they can quickly get to work.
UC San Diego Health System
This is the only academic health system in San Diego. It operates under one license with Thornton Hospital, and the two facilities provide a combined 552 beds. It is the mission of the health system to provide compassionate care to patients while also looking to advance medical discoveries. As it is a teaching hospital, it also seeks to educate the health professionals of tomorrow.
The UC San Diego Medical Center has a truly remarkable record and has been ranked in the top 50 facilities in America by the aforementioned U.S. News and World Report publication 17 years in a row. The five specialties the center continues to rank highly in are geriatrics, psychiatry, pulmonology, orthopaedics, and diabetes and endocrinology.
Its Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine provides patients with diagnosis and treatment services and is used by those who have chronic and acute lung diseases. The health system is ranked Number 9 in the United States when it comes to its pulmonary care, and it continues to lead the field thanks to innovations such as its work on the new thromboendarterectomy (PTE) procedure.
The system is constantly conducting clinical trials and is keen on advancing research, improving medical care, and finding new treatments. It is always on the lookout for volunteers to assist in certain trials, such as the latest treatment study for emphysema and COPD, which involves a non-surgical valve. UC San Diego also has the honor of being named as one of the national study sites by the Asthma Clinical Research Network.
UC San Diego’s Department of Psychiatry offers a full range of evaluative and therapeutic clinical services that are known to be state-of-the-art. This section of the center looks to understand patients in their current social context and feelings along with their past experiences and behaviors. It is the department’s strong belief that meaningful interactions with patients are crucial to successful clinical psychiatry.
Southern California is a sports have with a huge range of professional sports teams in a variety of sports. The center also happens to be the official sports medicine provider of the San Diego Chargers NFL franchise. UC San Diego states that its sports medicine is “founded in science” and “driven by passion.”
It has gained its lofty reputation by ensuring its physicians stay on the leading edge of advances in sports medicine, diagnosis, and treatment. It understands how an injury can affect the mind of an athlete as much as it impacts the body and strives to provide a fast and effective treatment plan. UC San Diego is just another example of how far ahead of the curve medical facilities in Southern California really are.
Southern California – Leading the Way in Compassion
It is, of course, a delicate topic, but Southern California health care providers are leading the calls for more compassionate end-of-life care. A number of the top medical centers in the SoCal region have joined forces and issued a set of recommendations that they believe will reduce suffering and enhance the level of dignity for patients nearing the end of their lives.
These recommendations were made at a conference on May 22, 2014; it was attended by private and public health care providers who serve more than 5 million people in the region. According to Dr. Neil Wenger, director of the UCLA Health Ethics Center, advancements in medicine, the increased availability of information, and economic pressures have combined to provide health care providers with unprecedented ethical issues when it comes to end-of-life care. He said it was the duty of all health care providers to help patients and their families when it came to the most difficult of decisions.
The main recommendations include better planning, timely access to support services such as hospice care for those with chronic illnesses, and shared decision-making between patients and medical practitioners. The fact this issue was the topic of such heated debate merely serves to highlight Southern California’s place at the top of the health care pyramid.
Hospitals in Southern California Ranked for Safety
One of the primary concerns for patients is of course the level of safety in a hospital. Consumer Reports published the results of its report into the levels of safety currently practiced in the nation’s hospitals, and the Southern California region threw up some interesting results. There were a total of 353 hospitals evaluated throughout the state of California, while in Southern California Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville was the surprise Number 1 medical facility in the region when it came to safety.
According to Consumer Reports, Desert Valley Hospital earned its ranking primarily because patients did not have bloodstream infections for more than two years and there were almost 40 percent fewer adverse events during 100 surgical procedures than the Southern California average.
The report looked at how patients fared during and post-surgery between 2009 and 2011 in 2,400 hospitals across the country. Results used the percentage of Medicare patients in hospitals that either passed away in the hospital or were forced to stay longer than expected. Five areas were examined: knee replacement, carotid artery surgery, hip replacement, back surgery, and angioplasty.
Incidentally, the report stated that some of the nation’s top-ranked medical centers did not always live up to their lofty reputations. It also appeared as if teaching hospitals ranked about the same as other hospitals. For the record, Anne Arundel Medical Center in Maryland was ranked Number 1 overall. Naturally, some hospitals disputed the ratings (those that ranked lowest, obviously), but in general Southern Californian medical centers fared very well.
Southern California offers many advantages: sunshine, beaches, clear waters, exotic food, and incredible attractions. Yet the overall quality of life would still not be enough if the hospitals in the region were found wanting. Fortunately, this is not the case, as the standard of health care in Southern California has risen dramatically.
As well as improving the overall safety in medical centers, physicians and surgeons are better qualified than ever, the equipment used is state of the art, and the innovative techniques used to treat patients mean that recovery times are faster with fewer complications, so residents of Southern California can get back to enjoying their sunshine.