WESTLAKE MEDICAL CENTER: Will Reopen As Urgent-Care Center
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. announced that it will "partly reopen" Westlake Medical Center as an urgent-care facility. The Los Angeles Times reports that the move "would strengthen hospital giant Columbia/HCA's hold on the regional market." But Columbia's decision has some community members disappointed. "I'm pleased they're going to reopen it. But we wanted an emergency room badly," said Patricia Coroner, a former member of Westlake's community advisory board. Capt. Lon Myers of the Los Angeles County Fire Department added that the old Westlake emergency room "was vital to the safety of the community." He said the new urgent-care center is "not really going to help us at all. We can't send (ambulance) patients to an urgent-care center" (Takenouchi, 8/8). "An urgent care center is nothing more than a doctor's office," said Alan Horitz, "an attorney who favors building an emergency medical clinic in Westlake Village." He continued, "It does not provide any emergency service. It does not provide any cardiac service and it is totally unacceptable to this community. (We) deserve more than this pittance they're throwing out" (Hughey, Ventura County Star, 8/8).
Back And Forth
Columbia purchased Westlake in 1995, and later "moved several hospital programs -- including the emergency room, maternity room and radiology department -- to Los Robles Regional Medical Center," another of its hospital in the area. Salick Health Care then purchased the hospital and its remaining programs, but shut the entire facility down after a "bitter" legal dispute with Columbia. Columbia bought the facility back from Salick for an "undisclosed sum." However, "a return to a full-service hospital is unlikely," according to Los Robles CEO Robert Shaw. He added that "concentrating services at Los Robles is the best way to provide acute care" to the community. "I think the way they are approaching this is probably a good thing. It's not going to be wasting society's resources on an unneeded facility," he said (Times, 8/8).