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County OKs Acquisition of Hospital

Times Staff Writer

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to spend $15 million to purchase and renovate the now-closed Clairemont Community Hospital, a move that is expected to alleviate the shortage of child and adolescent psychiatric beds that will be created by the 1992 closing of a leased psychiatric hospital in Loma Portal.

The hospital on Mt. Etna Drive, which will offer predominantly psychiatric care, is scheduled to open in August, 1991. The county will spend $10.5 million to acquire it from Americare Partners and $4.5 million more on renovations.

“Right now we’ve got 39 children and adolescent beds at Loma Portal, and, when the new facility opens, that total will increase to 46,” said William J. Burfitt, county deputy director of health.

County supervisors approved the acquisition despite strong objections from some neighbors. “We are adamantly opposed,” Linda Maskovich told supervisors at a public hearing Tuesday. “This is not a good use for this property.”

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Neighbors’ Concerns

Supervisor Susan Golding told Maskovich and other homeowners at the hearing that the county hopes to keep the hospital from becoming an eyesore or a security risk. “I know that there are concerns on behalf of the neighbors,” Golding said.

The renovated hospital, which will house 20 medical/surgical beds and 50 general medical beds, will be operated as a “closed facility” that treats only patients admitted from other county-operated psychiatric facilities, Burfitt said. County residents seeking emergency care, for example, will still be served by the UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.

The UCSD Medical Center has provided surgical and general medical care for the county since the mid-1960s, Burfitt said. County administrators believe the newly renovated facility’s medical and surgical departments will help cut the county’s health-care costs. They also expect San Diego’s share of Medi-Cal funding to increase by about $1.1 million annually because the county, which holds only a psychiatric care license, will be granted a general hospital license to operate the Clairemont hospital. State regulations prohibit Medi-Cal payments for certain procedures unless they are done in a licensed general hospital.

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The renovated hospital would join the recently dedicated adult psychiatric care facility on Rosecrans Street, which soon will replace the 60-bed County Mental Health Hospital in Hillcrest.


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