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Monday, Dec 4, 2023

HOSPITALS–Mission Bay Hospital May Relocate to Carmel Valley

Route 56 Development Factored Into Site Selection

Mission Bay Hospital’s top executive believes hospitals are investments in the future.

They don’t pay off right away, but six or seven years down the road they begin to rapidly appreciate, hospital CEO Deborah Brehe said.

Brehe has answered a lot of questions since the July 25 announcement that Mission Bay Hospital, owned by Dallas-based Triad Hospitals, a publicly traded firm, had received the go-ahead from Triad’s board of directors to seek a larger replacement hospital instead of retrofitting the current structure to current earthquake standards.

The proposed facility would increase the available beds from Mission Bay’s current 128 to almost 220, and acreage from 2.2 to 60. The proposed structure would cost $150 million; as much or more than the cost of state-mandated retrofitting, said Christopher Holden, senior vice president of Triad.

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Yet, still more questions need to be answered.

Chief among the concerns is will the owner of the 60-acre parcel of land in McGonigle Canyon slated as the replacement site sell to Triad Vice President Jim McElhaney.

Last week, the executive in charge of development flew to San Diego from Dallas to facilitate the deal. The parcel is on the south side of the un-built portion of state Route 56 and between Interstates 5 and 15.

& #711; Hospital Proposal Raises Questions About Schedules

Another concern is whether Highway 56 will be completed within the three- to four-year timetable Mission Bay believes it will take to build the replacement hospital.

Mission Bay must acquire the land, receive approval on building plans from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, build two or three 200,000-square-foot medical buildings, and install all the necessary equipment and before opening. If the freeway is not completed within the hospital’s timetable, Mission Bay will need to reanalyze how the hospital will be accessed.

But the main concern, the one that ultimately needs to be addressed, is will today’s projections produce tomorrow’s revenue at the for-profit hospital.

Part of the reason for the proposal to move to Carmel Valley was the projection the area around the site would experience a population boom over the next four years, Brehe said.

Already Mission Bay is moving forward. On Aug. 3, the hospital’s board of directors plans to introduce as new board members two Carmel Valley businessmen. It is believed they will greatly assist in the planning and building of the new hospital, said Christina Crouch, Mission Bay Hospital director of marketing.

& #711; Patients Expected To Be Drawn From Around County

Brehe believes the proposed hospital will be profitable because it won’t solely rely on the local community to support it. By offering specialized programs, which Mission Bay does now, the hospital would attract patients from throughout the county.

Currently, 90 percent of Mission Bay patients are not from the surrounding communities, Brehe said. The hospital blamed managed care providers for directing patients to other care centers in La Jolla and Kearny Mesa.

To offset the lost revenue from local patients, the hospital added specialty care programs such as a wound care center and a geriatrics program. The proposed hospital will offer more of the same sort of programs.

The hospital’s services will focus on whatever the doctors deem appropriate , most likely obstetrics and open-heart surgery, Brehe said.

“It wouldn’t matter if we moved to Carmel Valley or not, those people would still have to come from outlying areas,” she said.

The current hospital will be relegated to anything other than the inpatient acute facility it is now, Brehe said.

“I would say we’re leaning toward an ambulatory surgery center and outpatient services,” she said.

Whether the move is a good idea depends on the market a decade from now, said Judith Yates, vice president and COO of the HealthCare Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

“Hospitals are major capital investments. You have to guess that you’re building it correctly for (demand of ) the decades in front of you,” she said.


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