SAN LUIS OBISPO: Clinic Expansion Vies with General Hospital for Funding
When the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors considers today whether to reverse its decision to shutter General Hospital, it must face this striking fact: the county's primary care clinics treat more than 20 times as many patients as the struggling hospital admits, and many are calling for the clinics' expansion. The San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune reports that former county Supervisor Bud Laurent, who served on a committee that recommended closing the hospital and expanding the number of clinics, noted that there were nearly 40,000 visits to the Family Care Centers in San Luis Obispo and Atascadero in FY 1998, while only 1,299 patients were admitted to General Hospital during that time. Laurent said, "The theory was, and is, the hospital is requiring a (share of) limited funds which might otherwise be better utilized by being channeled to expanded clinics care." He added that there has been a "greater need to improve access to early diagnosis and other forms of health care that hospitals don't provide. ... I think it's fairly well documented ... that accessibility is really the critical factor in providing adequate health care." Supervisor Katcho Achadjian is expected to form a committee made up of those who favor keeping General open, and those who favor closing it. Saving General and expanding the clinics may not be exclusive goals: the Coalition to Save Our General Hospital "believes that the hospital and five clinics could be operated for the same money as the hospital and two clinics." The proposed new clinics are in Paso Robles, Morro Bay and the Five Cities area (Hurly, 1/26). Click here for previous CHL coverage.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.