LA HABRA: Community’s Only Hospital To Close
Friendly Hills Regional Medical Center, the only hospital in La Habra, will close next month, the hospital's owner, MedPartners Inc., said yesterday. Although Friendly Hills had a $36.2 million pretax profit last year, the Los Angeles Times reports that the company said "it was closing the hospital because it was losing money," and that "[a] MedPartners spokesperson could not be reached to explain the seeming contradiction." Mayor Dorothy May Rush said the "closure means there will be no place in the city to receive emergency health care." She added, "Instead, people will have to travel to facilities" in neighboring communities. The Times notes that the nearest ER is 1.5 miles east of Friendly Hills. MedPartners "said that the 116,000 people served by its local doctors' group will be sent to" hospitals owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. MedPartners and Tenet announced yesterday that the "closure of the 274-bed hospital is part of a plan for the companies to expand their joint health care network across Southern California." The agreement "will increase the number of MedPartners members covered by their health care network to about 275,000" (Cruz/Marsh, 4/9). Tenet and MedPartners officials said the move "reaffirms their companies' commitments to combining their experience and resources to address fundamental issues, including administering and enhancing the quality of the patient care they deliver" (Tenet/MedPartners release, 4/8).
The 25-year old Friendly Hills Hospital employs more than 200 people and is home to the local Meals on Wheels program, "which delivers two meals a day to 60 homebound senior citizens." Gregory Kind, the city's director of community services, "who oversees the program, said officials started looking Wednesday for another agency." He said, "Any time that you lose a resource like the hospital in your community, it definitely has an impact." The Times reports that MedPartners "was unsuccessful in selling the medical center," and that last year's hospital occupancy rate was 29.8% compared to the national average of 48.1%. In February, Friendly Hills' obstetrics unit, averaging approximately 140 births a month, closed. The new deal calls for MedPartners, which operates nearly 140 facilities in Southern California, and Tenet to "collaborate" and care for their members through clinics in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. "Tenet will invest $15 million to upgrade medical facilities" at the hospital to which patients will be referred (4/9).