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Scripps, Sharp HealthCare Voice Concerns Over County Reopening Plan

The driveway entrance to the emergency room at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Cent...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: The driveway entrance to the emergency room at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, May 14, 2020.

As San Diego County officials move forward with plans to reopen restaurants for dine-in service and retail stores, two local health care systems say they wanted more of a say in the final plan.

"We want to see businesses open too — Scripps like every health care system is losing a ton of money — but we need to do it in the right way," said Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder.

Van Gorder said Scripps was given the county's 180-page plan to reopen more businesses the morning of Tuesday's supervisors' vote.

"Didn’t give us enough time to really look it over discuss it with them, they are elements in the triggers that we have deep concerns about," Van Gorder said.

Van Gorder said the curve isn’t flattening everywhere. Scripps has been at or near capacity at their Chula Vista hospital for weeks and he said reopening businesses could make that situation even worse.

"We’ve had to transfer 56 patients from Chula Vista up to our northern hospitals," Van Gorder said. Scripps is also starting to take patients from Imperial County.

Reported by Matt Hoffman

Sharp HealthCare also said Tuesday they had not reviewed the plan before the vote and were only shown an outline the night before. Sharp and Scripps officials say currently they are handling about 60% of the county’s presumed COVID-19 cases Both health care giants are concerned about the triggers that could lead to restrictions coming back.

"One of the triggers is the hospitals reach 80% capacity," Van Gorder said. "The County always talks about the 6,051 beds. That’s total beds in the county. That’s not intensive care unit beds, that’s not negative pressure isolation rooms. So we’d be in deep trouble long before we ever filled all 80% of our beds if our ICU beds were full and our negative isolation rooms were full in a COVID situation."

While Scripps and Sharp might not have seen the plan prior to Tuesday's vote, UC San Diego Health and Palomar Health officials both said they supported it after meeting and going over it directly with county health doctors.

"I wanted to thank Patty Maysent from UCSD and Dianne Hansen from Palomar from two large hospital systems that came down and took the time to work with our CAO and our team," County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said during Tuesday's board meeting.

After Scripps and Sharp officials raised their concerns, county supervisors unanimously passed the plan to reopen more businesses.

KPBS asked county health officials Wednesday why Scripps and Sharp were not briefed on the plan in advance. Public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said no one was left out.

"It was completed over the weekend and we had our partners review it on Monday and we submitted it Tuesday evening so no one was left out," Wooten said.

Wooten said health care providers got the reopening plan after it was completed.

"We’ve reviewed the application with them and different people have different opinions," Wooten said.

Sharp issued a statement to KPBS Wednesday saying they are reviewing the reopening plan.

"We have now received the 187-page proposal for accelerated implementation of California’s road-map to modify the stay-at-home order, and we will be reviewing the document and providing our thoughts to county staff and the supervisors," a Sharp spokesperson said via email.

Scripps is currently conducting a similar review of the proposed plan.

The reopening outline was unanimously passed by supervisors Tuesday and is currently awaiting state approval to be implemented.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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