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Buying Spree Bolsters Occupational Clinic Chain

U.S. HealthWorks Inc., a group of occupational and urgent care clinics, has made its largest acquisition ever by purchasing 14 Lakeside Occupational Medical Centers in Florida, more than doubling its presence there. The addition of the Lakeside clinics is part of the Valencia company’s ongoing expansion; it has recently acquired a total of 21 centers. The company moved into Colorado earlier this year, making it the 21st state with a U.S. HealthWorks’ facility. “One of the key drivers for growth for our organization is expanding our footprint across the country in the markets we currently serve,” said Diane Yu, chief sales and marketing officer at U.S. HealthWorks. The new centers are located in the Tampa Bay, Lakeland and Orlando areas, bringing the total number of U.S. HealthWorks facilities in Florida to 27. One of the challenges Yu cited when purchasing new clinics is integration as each location has operating procedures of its own. “These centers have been in place 30-plus years, and so they have a certain culture, style and work pattern,” she said. “We come with our own culture, styles, practices and patterns, and it’s a little bit challenging with any acquisition to mesh the two to ensure all our associates are happy and generating the best possible patient-customer care.” The company also has started building centers from the ground up as opposed to its historical growth strategy through acquisitions. Yu said the first two clinics will be in the Southern California region, where it currently has 39 locations in areas such as Camarillo, Chatsworth and Van Nuys. According to Yu, many of the company’s national clients requested more facilities, which partially prompted the expansion plan. Some of U.S. HealthWorks’ clients include Whole Foods Market Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. In the Valley, the company contracts with the City of Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Galpin Motors and others. U.S. HealthWorks is a wholly-owned subsidiary of San Francisco-based Dignity Health and has 244 clinics across the country. Union Contract Antelope Valley Hospital and labor union Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have reached a three-year contract agreement after about 90 days of negotiations. “I would say to their credit, they (the union) were very reasonable and bargained in good faith,” said Mike Sarrao, the hospital’s chief labor negotiator. “Everyone was able to give input through the bargaining process.” The agreement, which has been ratified by both the union and the board of directors of Antelope Valley Healthcare District — the public entity that owns the hospital — determined wage increases, health benefits, supplemental sick leave as well as other issues. The union represents more than 1,100 of Antelope Valley Hospital’s 2,500 employees. Key takeaways from the contract are union wages will increase 1.5 percent the first and second year and 2 percent the third year. Sarrao expects the increase to go into effect next pay period. In addition, both sides agreed to increase contributions from employees using the hospital’s PPO insurance plan, as it is the most expensive and least utilized. They also decided to put a 360-hour cap on supplemental sick leave, which previously did not have a limit. The next contract negotiation is scheduled for June 2019. Amgen Drug Denied The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has rejected Amgen Inc.’s application to market its drug Parsabiv, which treats secondary hyperparathyroidism in adults with chronic kidney disease on hemodialysis. The FDA issued a letter turning down the application, which the Thousand Oaks biotech is currently reviewing. When a patient’s kidneys don’t function properly, it causes lower levels of calcium in the bloodstream, which can lead to hyperparathyroidism. This condition is the overproduction of the parathyroid hormone in an attempt to increase calcium levels. However, this can lead to too much calcium in the blood, causing health issues like bone thinning. Parsabiv is administered intravenously after a hemodialysis treatment. It mimics calcium by activating calcium-sensitive receptors on the parathyroid gland, causing it to stop promoting calcium in the bloodstream. Approximately 79 percent of hemodialysis patients and 88 percent of dialysis patients develop secondary hyperparathyroidism. It affects about 2 million people worldwide with 468,000 of those patients in the U.S. — which is the market Amgen will miss. “Amgen is reviewing the complete response letter, and we anticipate a post-action meeting with the FDA later this year to discuss the complete response,” the company said in a press release. The FDA denial does not affect regulatory submissions in other countries. Staff Reporter Stephanie Henkel can be reached at (818) 316-3130 or shenkel@sfvbj.com.

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