SCRIPPS HEALTH: Acquisition Raises Fervor Among Doctors
Several Scripps physician groups have accused Scripps Health administrators of diverting "significant funds" from patient care to acquire the debt-ridden Scripps Clinic Medical Group, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Affiliated with the prestigious Scripps Green Hospital, the clinic group is independent of Scripps Health but admits patients to the Green facility. The group has suffered financial losses in recent years and has amassed a $15 million debt. Although details of the acquisition remain secret, doctors who criticized the purchase argued that officials should have used the funds to help financially-strapped facilities in the Scripps network rather than bail out the independent group. The Xi Med Medical Group, a competing organization of 280 physicians associated with Scripps Memorial, led the charge against the acquisition. "This is public money from the hospital, from donations and from people hospitalized, but it appears to be going to a private medical group to relieve their debt, and that's unfair," Xi Med President Dr. Robert Brouillard said. Pointing to the recent closing of the Scripps East County facility, Brouillard said, "We're very leery about any merger or acquisition. We want to know what the financial details are." Frank Panarisi, president of the Scripps Health board, dismissed Xi Med's complaints, attributing them to "doctors concerned about competition." By purchasing the clinic group, Scripps Health will gain thousands of new patients, generating more revenue for the hospital system, supporters of the acquisition argued (Clark, 6/13).
How Does $500K Sound?
In other Scripps news, following last week's closure of the East County facility, Scripps Health has offered $500,000 to help local clinics absorb new patients, the Union-Tribune reports. Residents and community leaders urged Scripps to wait until they could find a new operator for Scripps East, but the hospital system shut down the facility on June 5. Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, said that he hopes the funds will ensure "a smooth transition." Along with the additional money, which local clinics can use to expand hours and services, Scripps will donate some medical equipment. Barbara Moore, director of program development for one local clinic, argued that the $500,000 will not address long term needs. "We perceive it will cover approximately three months of operating expenses. We hope other sources of funding will become available," she said (Pierce, 6/14).