In the next few weeks, Sharp HealthCare will transfer or discharge the last remaining patients at Point Loma’s Sharp Cabrillo Skilled Nursing Center as part of plans to shut down the facility by the time its lease expires April 3.
The facility stopped admitting new patients late last month and will transfer remaining patients to other area facilities by the end of February. About 50 patients remain, according to Sharp Memorial Hospital CEO Tim Smith.
The decision to close the 76-bed center, which provides short-term care to patients recovering from hospital stays, was made in December after hospital officials said they could no longer withstand operational losses of $7 million a year.
Among the many reasons they cited were higher leasing costs, expenses associated with building maintenance and utilities, low reimbursement rates for skilled nursing services, and increasing medical supply costs.
“The rent really wasn’t the big issue, it was a factor,” Smith said. “Our overall losses were just from operations.”
Sharp was unable to negotiate a lease with building owner Allan Kuebler, who bought the medical campus for $18.1 million in 2002. He could not be reached for comment.
Kuebler has torn down some of the smaller buildings on the campus to make room for a condominium complex.
Saving $5 Million
Smith says the facility’s closure will result in a cost savings of $5 million in a five-year span.
The skilled nursing facility, which opened in 1997, occupies three floors of a 10-story building located near the San Diego Sports Arena. It vacated the first of three patient floors in January, and patients were transferred to nearby skilled nursing facilities.
Lee Tablewski, whose 84-year-old father recently recovered from a bout of colitis after a three-week stay at Sharp Cabrillo, says he’ll be sorry to see it go.
“I think all of us, at some point, will wish we had a place like Cabrillo,” he said.
Sharp executives say the closure of Sharp Cabrillo has little effect on the area. San Diego County is home to 84 skilled nursing facilities that supply more than 8,750 beds, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Most of those facilities, however, provide long-term care. Sharp Cabrillo patients average two- to three-week stays, according to hospital officials.
“We need a place for people who need short-term skilled health care,” Tablewski said. “The needs of someone who has dementia are very different and require a different setting.”
200 Workers Affected
Sharp Cabrillo employs about 160 staff members and an additional 38 full-time vendors in the areas of food and nutrition, plant engineering and environmental services.
About half its employees have accepted or been offered jobs within Sharp’s health care system, according to Smith. Most of those employees have transferred to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, with others filling positions at Sharp Coronado Hospital, Sharp Grossmont Hospital of La Mesa and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
Some layoffs might occur, Smith says, but notes that workers would be offered a severance package and health benefits.
Sharp is a nonprofit health care system with 14,400 employees, and ranks sixth on the Business Journal’s newly released list of the county’s Largest Employers. It reported net revenues of $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2007 and $1.8 billion in 2006.