For forty six years a hospital had served Los Gatos then in the blink of an eye it was gone. Surprisingly not much news or interest followed. Tenet Healthcare pulled the plug on our community last year without an exit strategy and laid off over 500. Locked the doors and left as a way of protecting it's own bottom line. So much for those "community" values Tenet talked up.
Close that chapter, and begin a new when El Camino Hospital of Mountain View administrators announced in December that they were in escrow with property owner Long Beach-based HCP Inc. a health-care real estate investment firm to buy the Los Gatos Hospital.
Now this potential safety net is in jeopardy.
A petition signed by 121 residents within the public hospital district, which includes Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, most of Sunnyvale, and a small portion of Cupertino is currently being circulated to stop the purchase. (Residents of the district elect the hospital board which approved the acquisition plan.)
During the Feb. 11 th Board of Directors of El Camino Hospital meeting petitioners were given three minutes to comment. Items discussed: concerns of bad timing to buy the $45 million hospital during an economic downturn, and that the facility will cost another $10 million to $20 million to bring it up to seismic standards, and more for start-up costs. Judy Twitchell, El Camino spokesperson is not sure of the cost of the earthquake upgrades, but said the upgrades could be spread out over several years. The hospital, she added, would not comment on initial start-up costs. The purchase would help El Camino meet its strategic plan by expanding services to residents outside its district. El Camino administrators said the hospital currently has $300 million in unrestricted funds generated from profit, and that taxpayer funds would not go toward the new acquisition. The hospital spends about $8 million collected in district taxes each year on community outreach and capital costs.
"El Camino Hospital has been very conservative and well managed over the last several years, and we really are in a good position to do this," Twitchell said. "In a tough economy, it is good to have a strong financial position."El Camino Hospital has the capacity and interest to help meet the health care needs of our neighboring community as administrators began negotiating last summer, but said they could release only limited information due to a strict disclosure agreement.
The closing of the Community Hospital affects property values, but more importantly services and outreach that benefit the entire community. This issue is worthy of your attention. Please consider attending the Wednesday, March 11, 2009 meeting at 5:30 p.m El Camino Hospital, 2500 Grant Road, Mountain View, California 94040
State your opinion for the record. Let's let the Board of Directors of El Camino Hospital know how important and welcome this transition will be. A little push back from our community is needed. Plus it would be nice to see if we have a pulse.