San Diego health care giant Scripps Health announced it has closed escrow on the former San Diego Hospice hospital and eight-acre property in Hillcrest, and now officially owns the property. It purchased the hospital at auction in federal bankruptcy court for $16.55 million in April.

The health system will use the facility for inpatient hospice care, it said.

“We’re pleased to take another step forward in preserving an important community resource for San Diego County families for generations to come,” Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, said in a statement. “We will now begin the process of looking at what work we need to do within the facility to prepare it for use once again.”

He said Scripps will also be consulting with and working with the California Department of Public Health’s licensing arm to evaluate its options. There is a new hospice licensure available in California, he said.

“We don’t know exactly when we will be able to open the facility to care for patients again. Our work will take several months to complete,” Van Gorder said. “We are hoping to open under Scripps Hospice in early 2014.”

— Meghana Keshavan