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Week in Review : MAJOR EVENTS, IMAGES AND PEOPLE I ORANGE COUNTY NEWS : CITIES : UCI Medical Center Emerging From Debt

<i> Times staff writers Ray Perez, Heidi Evans and Jeffrey A. Perlman compiled the Week in Review stories</i>

What a difference one year makes. About this time last year the UCI Medical Center in Orange was almost $10 million in the red.

But last week medical center officials announced that the facility is slowly creeping out of debt and could even begin turning a profit before too long. As of April, the medical center was only $287,000 in debt, according to the hospital’s year-to-date financial report.

Last year, the teaching hospital ended the year with a $9.6-million deficit and was one of three UC teaching hospitals--along with Davis and San Diego--that pleaded with the Legislature for a $15-million subsidy to help reduce their debts. The Legislature granted the three schools the subsidy, plus a $11.7-million capital improvement allowance. The funds derived from these allocations have not been used to reduce UCI Medical Center’s debt.

“I’m not ready to declare a victory yet,” said Acting Director Leon Schwartz. But he was obviously pleased with the vast improvement in the medical center’s financial outlook during the past year.

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Schwartz said a key reason for the turnaround in the debt picture is that the medical center has made progress toward its goal of attracting more privately insured patients, whose payments for medical care offset the losses sustained by treating Medi-Cal and indigent adults.

The turnaround drew praise from University of California regents, meeting last week at UCLA.

“I’m just delighted at what you’ve been able to accomplish in just a few months,” Regent Frank Clark Jr., chairman of the committee on hospital governance, told UCI Chancellor Jack Peltason.


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