Last-ditch effort to save California hospital fails

San Clemente, Calif., officials came up short this week when they asked state officials to postpone the impending closure of the community's hospital, according to The Orange County Register.

Saddleback Memorial – San Clemente is slated to close May 31. The primary reason for the closure is dwindling patient volumes. In early March, hospital officials said many days there are less than 10 inpatients at the hospital.

MemorialCare, the hospital's parent system, explored other options before deciding to shut down the facility. In August 2014, MemorialCare announced plans to convert the 73-bed hospital into an outpatient medical campus. The system worked with state lawmakers on legislation that would have allowed a satellite emergency department at the outpatient campus in San Clemente. However, the legislation failed in January. The following week, the San Clemente City Council voted to rezone the San Clemente campus property to require hospital services.

In a recently filed lawsuit, MemorialCare asks the court to repeal the zoning ordinance passed in January. MemorialCare claims when the system purchased the hospital in 2005, the city promised the facility could be altered to fit the healthcare needs of the community.

With the lawsuit pending in federal court, San Clemente Mayor Bob Baker and City Manager James Makshanoff met with California Sen. Patricia Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough on Monday. The purpose of the meeting was to ask the California Department of Public Health to keep emergency services at the hospital.

Mr. Baker told the OC Register that the California Attorney General indicated the state could order MemorialCare to keep the hospital open until a new operator is secured. However, the California Department of Public Health said its doesn't have the authority to keep the hospital's emergency room open.

Saddleback Memorial – San Clemente will remain open until midnight May 30. Hospital Administrator Tony Struthers told the OC Register that no decision has been made about the site. "We are evaluating future uses of the property and will continue to evaluate the options as the lawsuit to overturn the city's new zoning ordinance proceeds."

More articles on healthcare finance:

Cincinnati Children's to shrink workforce as it cuts $250M in costs
Dennis Kucinich files 2nd FTC complaint to investigate Ohio hospital closure
Mount Sinai Beth Israel plans downsizing as losses mount

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