City weighs option of opening its own hospital if emergency room closes

The looming possibility that MemorialCare Health System may shutter its San Clemente hospital and emergency room has led city officials to look at another option: their own, brand-new hospital.

City Manager James Makshanoff announced last week that city staff is trying to identify a site for a new hospital and emergency room on land the city owns along the path of Avenida La Pata, a road being extended to link San Clemente with San Juan Capistrano in 2016.

Amid outcry from some residents, MemorialCare Health System, owner of 73-bed Saddleback Memorial Medical Center San Clemente, is looking seriously at shutting down its hospital and ER at 654 Camino de los Mares to build a three-story medical pavilion offering a wide range of outpatient services offered at a lower cost than a hospital.

Missing from MemorialCare’s announced proposal last August was 911 emergency services. That drew a backlash from residents alarmed that closure of the only ER between Mission Viejo and Oceanside would create a gap in coverage. A group of local physicians formedsavesanclementehospital.org.

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