San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Votes To Close County-Operated Hospital
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-1 to close San Luis Obispo General Hospital, ending "decades of debate and controversy," the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. The county Public Health Department will use the estimated $1.38 million per year saved by the closure of General to improve services provided by a countywide network of public health clinics. After the hospital closes, low-income county residents who require inpatient care will receive treatment under contracts the county expects to sign with private hospitals. Gail Wilcox, assistant county administrator, said that "it is too early to know" the exact date when General will close, the Tribune reports. The supervisors decided to close the hospital over cost concerns. The county's last fiscal year budget included a $6 million subsidy to operate General and associated clinics, but the supervisors had to approve an additional $4.3 million to cover the cost of payroll and "other cash needs." In a "last-ditch effort to fend off a closure vote," General supporters said that the cost "is a small price to pay to maintain a safety net for indigent county residents." However, Supervisor Peg Pinard, who had voted against closing the hospital in the past, said that "it makes no sense to keep the hospital open when there is no support for it by the board and county administrators." County administrative staff will draft a closure plan and report to the board in 90 days with additional details. Supervisors voted to close General in 1998 but later overturned the decision and allowed the hospital more time to become solvent (Sneed, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 10/16).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.