Car Crash Leaves Graduate Student in Coma
UC Berkeley Daily Californian
March 1, 2005

An international student at UC Berkeley is in a coma after his car was hit by another car involved in a police chase for suspected drug activity.

Jie Wang, a third-year graduate student in the Chemistry Dept., was driving through the intersection at Ashby and San Pablo avenues on the evening of Feb. 23 when the driver of a Honda Civic ran a red light and collided with Wang, said Judy Lieberman, assistant city administrator for the city of Albany, Calif.

Lieberman said an Albany police officer had been following the Civic’s driver, 29-year-old Adam Jones of Albany, who was suspected of drug activity. The officer had followed the vehicle from Interstate 80 to the scene of the accident.

“When the officer arrived at the intersection of Ashby and San Pablo, he saw that the suspected vehicle had collided with another vehicle at the intersection,” Lieberman said.

The California Highway Patrol is currently conducting an investigation to confirm whether the officer was actively pursuing Jones at the time of the crash, Lieberman said. Jones will face felony evasion of police and possible traffic-related violations, she said.

Ambulances rushed Wang, Jones and a passenger riding in Jones’s car to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where they were treated for injuries.

Wang has been in a coma since the accident, said his friend Mervin Ye Zhou, a graduate student.

Wang suffered major brain damage and is being kept alive with a respirator, Zhou said. He said doctors say there is only a slight chance Wang will survive, due to the extent of the brain damage.

“Doctors are saying there really is no chance anymore,” said UC Berkeley student Renbin Yan, who knows Wang. “Relatives and friends are thinking of some miracle.”

Jones and his passenger were kept at the hospital for questioning, and the passenger was released the day of the crash.

Wang’s parents have been trying since Feb. 28 to get a visa to see their only son and they flew into the U.S. from Shanghai, China on Tuesday, Zhou said.

“He was really a great student,” Zhou said. “We are trying to see if we can get any compensation from the government. He didn’t do anything wrong.”

Plan Calls for Hospital Closure
UCSD Guardian
Feb. 28, 2005

Under a new expansion plan for UCSD Healthcare announced by university officials, all 386 beds at UCSD’s Hillcrest Hospital – which treats a major share of the county’s poor – would move to a new location and the facility would be shut down.

Detailed in the report “A New Vision for Healthcare” and approved by the UC Board of Regents, the plans were first publicly disseminated in response to a San Diego Union-Tribune public records request. The plan calls for Thornton Hospital to expand from its current 119 beds to 500 beds over the next 20 years, according to the report. UCSD also plans to renovate Hillcrest Medical Center’s remaining outpatient and emergency services through the use of new medical technology.

Although the plan will be implemented over 20 years, it has drawn criticism from other health care providers, especially UCSD competitor Scripps Health. The university’s hospitals now treat about one-third of the county’s uninsured, but Scripps officials have said that the new plan to expand the Thornton Hospital is designed to court the wealthier patient base of La Jolla.

“It causes deep concerns because UCSD bought the hospital from the county under the guise that it would provide medical care for the poor and underserved,” said Don Stanziano, Scripps Health director of public relations. “They are moving the hospital from central San Diego, where they can serve the poor, to La Jolla.”

UCSD Health Sciences Director of Communications Leslie Franz said it would be more beneficial for all of the hospital’s patients of it focused its resources into one facility.

“UCSD will not diminish its commitment to providing medical care for the poor,” Franz said.

The closing of UCSD Hillcrest Hospital will impact Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, Stanziano said.

“Scripps Mercy is time-challenged as it is,” Stanziano said. “There is already a wait in our emergency room. Now those patients will back up our hospital. Mercy Hospital is already at capacity.”

But UCSD Healthcare CEO Richard Liekweg said the hospital’s move would cause few problems, because the UCSD Medical Center treats patients from all over the county.

“Forty-five percent of the patients we see are from the North County region and another 9 percent are from East County,” he said.

The cost of rebuilding the 45-year-old UCSD Hillcrest Hospital was the reason for restructuring the UCSD Medical Center, Liekweg said. Consolidating both hospitals will prove to be cost-effective because the Hillcrest hospital has serious seismic concerns, he said.

“The benefit to consolidating our health care is first to improve the quality of our health care,” Liekweg said. “We think we can enhance the quality through consolidation. The second reason is the high cost: We have to duplicate and invest in two of everything for both hospitals.”