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UC San Diego Health steps in to help El Centro hospital stay afloat

UC San Diego Health will soon take over day-to-day operations for Imperial County’s largest hospital.

El Centro Regional Medical Center has suffered a string of financial setbacks and staffing problems in recent years. Without UCSD Health’s intervention, the Medical Center’s financial reserves would likely be exhausted later this year according to hospital administrators.

Under the proposed plan, UCSD Health will assume full leadership of the hospital. It's one of two medical centers in the county that is home to 179,000 residents according to census data.


According to hospital leaders, plans are underway to develop a more robust health care system that would serve the entire county.

Dr. Christian Tomaszewski, the chief medical officer of El Centro Regional Medical Center, said that the shift in leadership will help stabilize health care in a region historically beset by community health challenges.

"There's a lot of lung issues and that causes inflammation. And then you have a population that has a high incidence of the big three killers," Tomaszewski said. "You know: high lipids, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension. You throw all that in there and it's especially a challenge to take care of those patients and maintain them healthy."

On top of that, many of the patients rely on safety-net programs like MediCal for their care and the hospital is reimbursed less for treating those patients than the cost of providing care he said.

"This is one of the poorest counties in the nation — I mean, it's mostly MediCal and Medicare, so essentially every time we admit a patient we're actually losing money," Tomaszewski said.


Tomaszewski joined Midday Edition on Wednesday with more on what this will mean for healthcare in Imperial County.