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Commentary: Mission Hospital seeks flexibility for ICU space

Meeting the evolving healthcare needs of our community requires both flexibility and investment.

In the tradition of our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, Mission Hospital - Laguna Beach is committed to ensuring everyone in our communities has access to advanced, compassionate healthcare. When South Coast Medical Center faltered over three years ago, Mission Hospital readily made the $35 million commitment to the people of Laguna Beach so they would continue to have access to complete, compassionate healthcare in their local setting. We view this as a sacred commitment, and it guides our decisions and conversations daily.

Recently, we made an informal inquiry to the California Department of Public Health for program flexibility in the space currently designated for intensive care. The Laguna Beach campus currently has 10 beds designated for ICU patients. On average, we care for only one or two patients in that unit on any given day, leaving the remaining beds empty. We have many patients requiring a lower level of care as they heal from surgery or other treatments who could benefit greatly from the soothing ocean views and comfort of the private rooms.

Our inquiry to modify the way we use the space in Laguna Beach was made in that same spirit with which we entered into our commitment to the community more than three years ago. Program flexibility will enable us to use the ICU space much more effectively to ensure more patients have access to private rooms and clinical staff largely underused. Program flexibility does not impact our commitment and intention to continue to operate a full service emergency department in Laguna Beach.


It is our intention to maintain licensed ICU beds in Laguna Beach. At the same time, we recognize that many could benefit more from the specialized intensive care units, for cardiac, stroke and surgical care, that are available on our Mission Viejo campus. The flexibility we are requesting for Laguna Beach gives us greater ability to ensure that patients receive the appropriate level of care they need, without regard to location.

Our Laguna Beach campus is a great source of pride and achievement for all of us at Mission Hospital. In just over three years, we have invested an additional $21 million in necessary renovations, expansion of our essential behavioral health and chemical dependency services, and upgraded technology for more advanced clinical care. T

We are committed to continuing our investment in the services we provide on our Laguna Beach campus. Greater flexibility in how we use the valuable space we have there will help us continue to meet the evolving — and highly individual — needs of the community with the same advanced care that the people of Laguna Beach and our other coastal communities have come to expect from Mission Hospital.

KENNETH D. MCFARLAND is president and chief executive of Mission Hospital.