Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, Orthopaedic to Align


Taking heed of an industry-wide prescription for fiscal health, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital are expected to agree today to form an alliance designed to lower operating costs, expand medical service and enhance research.

The UC Board of Regents is expected to approve the deal at its March 18 meeting in Oakland, hospital officials said. Under the agreement, Orthopaedic will move its in-patient orthopedic care--about 18 patients daily--to Santa Monica-UCLA within the next five years. In return, Santa Monica-UCLA would add new services, such as family medicine and pediatrics, to Orthopaedic's downtown location. Both hospitals would retain separate boards of directors.

The partnership is the latest in a movement by health-care providers struggling to stay afloat amid shrinking margins and increased competition from managed care.

The proposed alliance may be just what the doctor ordered.

"Our long-term strategy is to build a major health-care network," said Gerald Levey, medical sciences provost at UCLA. "To compete in the marketplace, one needs a broad number of patients. This kind of base also educates our medical students."

In 1995, UCLA Medical Center acquired Santa Monica Medical Center.

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