Palomar Hospital in Escondido will close - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Palomar Hospital in Escondido will close

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Palomar's Board of Directors voted Wednesday night to close down the Palomar Hospital in downtown Escondido. Palomar Health said it's costing them $20 million a year to keep the hospital open and needs $172 million in repairs.

Closing the hospital will move labor and delivery and inpatient rehabilitation to the Palomar Medical Center, three miles away. The Behavioral Health department would move to the Pomerado Hospital in Poway, 12 miles away.

In a three hour-closed door session, the board came out and voted 5-2 to close the downtown campus.

“This is the right thing to do for the community and for the nursing and medical staff,” said Dr. Jaime Rivas, Medical Dir. for Emergency Services for Palomar Health.

Two nutritional care assistants who are single mothers say they found out 13 days ago executives were planning to close the hospital which would lay off them and 250-300 other per diem and full time employees, “Who knows if I will have a job, what will I do, how will I feed my kids?” said Kristy Garcia.

Some nurses and the community wanted more time.

“The reality is we want to get done before the flu season hits and move people because then the new hospital will be very busy,” Dr. Alan Conrad, Medical Dir. at Palomar Health.

For the past week the board of directors heard from 400 people throughout the area about moving services to the new Palomar Medical Center (PMC) and Pomerado Hospital in Poway.

“We don't want people to show up to the ER and it's closed,” said Escondido resident, Carmen Miranda who opposes the closure.

Nurses believe the shutdown will cause longer wait times at the other hospitals. Despite voters saying promises were broken when officials pledged to keep the downtown campus open when they approved a bond in 2004 to build PMC, medical directors say streamlining will provide better care to patients.

Now per diem workers and some full times staff are awaiting their 60 day-notice.

“I am a single mom of two and it is very hard, very, very hard,” said Sofia Espino.

Palomar Health Center officials say it will take about 90-180 days to shutdown the hospital and move services to Pomerado and Palomar Medical Center.

Officials are also working with the City of Escondido to form a task force to study what to do with the 14 acres the hospital sits on in downtown.
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