Bills seek to save San Clemente ER

Two Orange County legislators introduced bills Monday in Sacramento seeking to let Saddleback Memorial Medical Center San Clemente establish a stand-alone emergency room.

The bills – SB-787 by State Sen. Patricia Bates and AB-911 by Assemblyman Bill Brough – are in response to a proposal by MemorialCare Health System, owner of Saddleback Memorial Medical Centers in Laguna Hills and San Clemente, that could close San Clemente’s hospital and ER.

MemorialCare would replace the 73-bed hospital and emergency room with a comprehensive outpatient medical pavilion offering a surgery center, imaging, rehab, wellness programs, specialist physicians and advanced urgent care. No decision has been made, but MemorialCare’s board could decide this month upon receiving a feasibility study.

The plan has drawn opposition from residents worried that closure of the emergency room will create a void in South County’s 911 services. Under current state law, paramedics can only transport 911 patients to a licensed hospital emergency room. Advanced urgent care doesn’t qualify.

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