Ventura County medical leader outlines plan to reopen hospital

October 13, 2004
Santa Paula News

First it will be that oh-so-important Emergency Room and units for intensive care followed by primary care, obstetrics, pediatrics and internal medicine.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesFirst it will be that oh-so-important Emergency Room and units for intensive care followed by primary care, obstetrics, pediatrics and internal medicine.Although Ventura County has plans on the table for reopening Santa Paula Memorial Hospital first the deal has to be approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robin Riblett. Supporting the $2.75 million county bid to purchase the hospital, medical buildings, parking lots and additional property is the Creditors’ Committee and the Santa Paula City Council, which has ordered a study for rezoning the 16.5-acre balance of the 29 acre Hospital on the Hill for development.The joint plan might take several months to jell, but Ventura County Health Care Director/Medical Center Administrator Dr. Pierre Durand still has SPMH reopening plans on the front burner.Dr. Sam Edwards of Santa Paula, the former chief of Ventura County Medical Center, will come out of retirement to lead SPMH, which closed its doors on Dec. 19.Three days after community-built SPMH, which had served the river valley since 1961, closed, hosp8ital trustees filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; hospital debts are now estimated at more than $15 million.After the Oct. 5 hearing where county supervisors approved the purchase, Dr. Durand said that reopening SPMH’s Emergency Room would be first along with up to seven beds for intensive care.“…then, we’ll phase in the balance,” of services that had been offered at SPMH.
The sale will first have to go through the court process and if successful reopening the SPMH Emergency Room will be the “top priority.”Dr. Durand took a walk-through of Santa Paula Memorial Hospital the week prior to the supervisors’ decision to purchase the medical facility and said that the infrastructure was found to be in good order although about $2 million in upgrades might be required.Dr. Durand said he is looking forward to having the private physicians who used SPMH back as well as other hospital employees as needed.“This is a happy day,” noted Dr. Durand.The SPMH patient mix fits well with the population already served by the county: 35 percent are privately insured, Medicare covers 25 percent and the remaining 40 percent are either uninsured or covered by MediCal, a government program for the poor.An attempt would be made to convert the uninsured to MediCal following the county’s model.In addition, about 450 county employees live in the Santa Clara River Valley, which overall represents an annual healthcare market estimated at about $50 million.

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