BAKERSFIELD: Catholic Healthcare West May Close Mercy Hospital
Catholic Healthcare West Central California is contemplating a reorganization of its three Bakersfield hospitals -- Mercy, Bakersfield Memorial and Mercy Southwest -- and may shift "facilities away from downtown" and possibly close Mercy Hospital altogether, the Bakersfield Californian reports. Although CHW sent a letter to its employees Monday stating the proposal "could lead to major changes in how we deliver health care services to the residents of the southern San Joaquin Valley," spokesperson Barry Ginsbarg said, "We want to emphasize we're just exploring a concept." Potential plans include "expanding services at Mercy Southwest Hospital by transferring the emergency department, intensive-care beds and additional medical/surgical beds" from Mercy Hospital. Services "could be transferred to or expanded at Memorial Hospital," according to the letter written by CHW Central California executives Bernard Herman and Larry Carr.
The Californian reports the proposal was "endorsed, in concept, by the board of Bakersfield Memorial and CHW Central California" in May. Herman said transferring services from Mercy to Mercy Southwest would be beneficial because they operate under the same license, and Southwest "does not face the expensive earthquake-retrofit requirements Mercy does." In addition, the urgent care center at Southwest "was designed to eventually become an emergency room." Herman said, "I've always said Mercy Southwest is our future." The reorganization plan will be studied by CHW officials in conjunction with "employees, city leaders and other community members," Herman said (Bedell, 6/9).