Scripps Health Board of Trustees Approves Plan To Merge Two Hospitals
The Scripps Health board of trustees has voted to approve "a money-saving strategy" to merge Scripps Memorial Hospital in Chula Vista and Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest under one hospital license, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Scripps officials said they will file an application for a license consolidation with the Department of Health Services as soon as joint bylaws have been drafted and approved by physicians at both hospitals. According to the Union-Tribune, DHS could approve the consolidation application in as little as 30 days. The 183-bed Chula Vista facility, which treats a large number of uninsured and low-income patients and has lost more than $30 million since 2000, could be closed if the merger is not approved, according to Scripps officials. Scripps Mercy Administrator Tom Gammiere said that the hospital system could avoid closing Scripps Memorial by improving efficiency and implemnting "some belt-tightening at the administrative levels," the Union-Tribune reports. Jim Grisolia, chief of medicine at Scripps Mercy, said that the merger also could improve the hospital system's finances by allowing it to buy new equipment and improve facilities.
Dr. Tomas Romero, a cardiologist at Chula Vista, said, "There has been talk that this will improve funds to Scripps Health, but it's not clear how those moneys will be distributed. How much of that will trickle down to Chula Vista?" According to the Union-Tribune, some doctors are also "skeptical about additional advantages the merger might hold for Scripps Mercy." For example, some Chula Vista physicians are concerned that the merger is motivated by a desire to maintain Scripps Mercy's receipt of state and federal disproportionate share funding for treating a high level of Medi-Cal and Medicare beneficiaries. However, Gammiere said, "Both hospitals have exceeded that threshold and will continue to do so" (Berestein, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/10).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.