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Hospital Wing Foes Tout Signatures

Opposed to a proposed outpatient wing at the Ventura County Medical Center, representatives of neighboring Community Memorial Hospital announced Wednesday that they have collected enough signatures to qualify a referendum on the project for the March ballot.

CMH officials would not disclose the number of signatures gathered, but spokesman John Stodder called it “a good, big . . . number.” CMH needs to file 22,124 signatures with the county elections division today to put the issue before voters in March.

The proposed referendum would order the supervisors not to issue the $51 million in bond-like certificates needed to pay for the construction, Stodder said. Hospital officials argue that the county would use the new wing to lure patients from private hospitals.

Community Memorial officials have also said that the county’s plan is fiscally not sound.

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But county supervisors and medical center officials say the federal government will reimburse the county for a majority of the project’s cost. They say the project is necessary to replace existing hospital buildings, several of which are unsafe and leased at high cost to the county.

VCMC officials say the wing would not add any bed space to the hospital and would not compete for privately insured patients.

County Counsel Jim McBride said the county will file a lawsuit this week alleging that the referendum is invalid. He said that CMH is legally required to file the referendum within 30 days of the supervisors’ approval of the financing plan, and the supervisors voted on the issue last December.


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