EL CAJON: Scripps Refuses to Delay Hospital Closure
Although San Diego County officials have implored Scripps Health System to delay the closure of its El Cajon hospital, Scripps officials said yesterday they must move forward with the June 5 closure date, the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Scripps Health administration spokesperson Robin Liszewski said the hospital must keep its scheduled closing date because the system is losing "roughly half a million" dollars for each month the El Cajon facility remains open. Chris Van Gorder, Scripps chief of operations, said that he has asked the state to keep the hospital's license "in suspension" to allow a company the opportunity to purchase or take over the facility. Texas-based Paragon Health Resources is said to be interested in such a deal, but officials there could not be reached for comment. County Health Director Dr. Robert Ross said, "I'm very disappointed that the Scripps organization has not provided us with more time to more appropriately plan for the closure." He said that to prepare the county for the hospital's closure, paramedic response times and hospital staffing at other hospitals must be improved, community clinic hours extended and a community education campaign launched to reduce unnecessary emergency room calls. He said he would "reiterate [his] appeal" for Scripps to postpone the delay by "a minimum of 60 days, and optimally or ideally, as much as six months." County Supervisor Dianne Jacob expressed her disappointment: "This is extremely serious. We're talking about people's lives and the fact that Scripps does not care whether people live or die. If they did, they would give us a little more time to make sure we put measures in place." Liszewski and Van Gorder maintain however, that Scripps "complied with the law by giving a 90-day notice to state and county officials" (Clark, 5/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.