INLAND HOSPITALS: Boom In Construction
"After several economically tough years, Inland area hospitals have embarked on a building spree, expanding emergency rooms and adding surgery suites to accommodate a boom in patients," the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. Most of the construction is in Riverside County, where at least six hospitals have "construction or renovation projects ... underway." In San Bernardino County, "the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Hospital in Loma Linda is converting an inpatient ward to an outpatient clinic to keep up with medicine's general shift toward outpatient care," said spokesperson Annie Tuttle. According to Bob Holt, Inland area director for the Healthcare Association of Southern California, San Bernardino County hospitals "may have less need to expand or renovate quarters, or may be holding off as they watch looming changes among area hospitals."
Riverside-based Parkview Community Hospital and San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning are "renovating and expanding their aging obstetrics wards, projects that together will cost at least $5.5 million." Corona Regional Medical Center is planning to add beds to its emergency room "to cope with the growth of patients and the community's population." Inland Valley Medical Center has a $2 million project in the works to "double its surgical suites, to six." Riverside Community Hospital is considering opening a ninth emergency room, and Moreno Valley Community Hospital is opening another floor for patients.
Now's The Time
Jim Lott, vice president of the Healthcare Association of Southern California, said many Southern California hospital were "too strapped financially" between 1989 and 1994 to consider construction or renovation. "Now, they are able to because they have cut their expenses and re-established their (profit) margins," he said. As a result, "[t]here is building going on everywhere." According to Lott, many hospitals in the area are unequipped to handle managed care, "in which more care is provided through outpatient services, rather than through overnight hospital stays." He noted, "Most hospitals are over 30 years old, and they are configured to a pre-managed-care era where there are lots of beds and a very small emergency department." In addition, many hospitals are repairing damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake and are retrofitting in order to meet the new seismic standards by 2008 (Beeman, 2/5).