Some Health Care Providers Voice Concerns About UCSD Plan To Restructure Health Services
Physicians, health care administrators and civic leaders on Monday voiced concerns about a plan by the University of California-San Diego to move some health care services from its 386-bed hospital on the Hillcrest campus to Thornton Hospital in La Jolla, saying that the plan would negatively affect care for residents of southern San Diego County, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/8).
The 10- to 20-year restructuring plan, which university officials have said is not final, would expand Thornton Hospital to a 505-bed facility and replace the Hillcrest facility, which does not meet state seismic standards. The plan calls for the creation of a larger emergency and ambulatory care complex and preventive health programs.
The Thornton campus also would be updated with telemedicine and electronic videoconferencing technology. Under the plan, the Hillcrest facility would continue to offer emergency and urgent care services (California Healthline, 2/4).
Hospital officials said that financial losses at area hospitals would be exacerbated by service changes at UCSD's Hillcrest campus, which treats about half of the county's uninsured or underinsured residents.
In addition, hospital leaders said that the plan could affect county residents' access to emergency care and cause increased wait times.
James Grisolia, chief of staff-elect for Scripps Mercy, said, "Any disruption will have a chain reaction, particularly in the south part of the county." He added, "This is something that has the potential to hit every home, every city block in Chula Vista and throughout the county."
Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) said UCSD can no longer afford to operate its hospital on the Hillcrest campus because of insufficient federal and state compensation. He is calling for the federal government to increase reimbursement rates and pay for services it now expects hospitals to offer at no cost, such as providing medical treatment for undocumented immigrants.
In a statement released Monday, UCSD executive officer Richard Liekweg stated that he "applauds ... any public discussion that addresses this important national issue" of providing care to low-income residents, the Union-Tribune reports (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/8).