MemorialCare sues over hospital closure, asks for $42.5M in damages

Fountain Valley, Calif.-based MemorialCare Health System has filed a lawsuit against the city of San Clemente, Calif., requesting potential damages of $42.5 million for losses associated with the planned closure of Saddleback Memorial – San Clemente, according to the San Clemente Times.

The hospital 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, and the number of inpatient surgeries had dropped to less than one per day.

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 its 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.

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