Dear friends and community members,
Today, MemorialCare decided to fire their employees and close its hospital doors on our community, prioritizing financial profits over people. With billions in their bank accounts, their board along with their high paid executives made this closure decision with zero input from the cities affected, including the doctors, nurses and more importantly their community.
This closure decision will prove to be fatal for local residents who deserve access to emergency healthcare services. This decision will directly affect mortality rates in our region and MemorialCare knows this but doesn’t care.
Gus Gialamas, President of Save San Clemente Hospital Foundation expressed disgust, “12,000 people have signed petitions to save the hospital, 4 City Councils have voted the same way, MemorialCare themselves said they wanted to maintain emergency services, yet they will close our only hospital costing lives, health care and jobs in our community.”
In 2005, MemorialCare purchased the only hospital in San Clemente, a 40 year-old mainstay to the community, and promised that they would grow services, not diminish them. “We’re not trying to come here and make a lot of draconian changes,” CEO Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, Steve Geidt announced. “The hospital runs very well, we need to take what it does well and make it stronger, make it bigger, improve its financial position,” he commented to the OC Register that same year.
Again in 2010, Tony Struthers, Administrator of San Clemente Hospital, said, “I look forward to overseeing the growth of the hospital as we continue to see more and more patients. I will be working closely with existing management and physicians to implement new services to better serve our community.”
“Let’s not forget that MemorialCare receives millions of dollars in tax benefits from this community to be a non-profit public benefit company,” said Steve Cullen, member of Save San Clemente Hospital Foundation. MemorialCare’s own official non-profit reports show they have; over $300 million in annual profits from their 5 hospital chain network, approximately $3 billion in reserves, a CEO that makes just under $2 million a year, and a board of directors with no representative from San Clemente.
In January, public testimony in the State Legislature about this hospital outlined how it is not losing money. “Profit margins were at 9% (at San Clemente Hospital) in a state where the average is 2.6%. This hospital could … continue to operate a full functioning ER and hospital.” After hearing that Doctor Nick Karahalios exclaimed, “MemorialCare is about making more money. In fact, their CEO’s claim to fame is running ‘lean’ hospitals. The problem is emergency rooms and hospitals are the front line safety net for the health of the community, not a machine you squeeze every nickel out of.”
Memorial Care just last week said they would entertain offers to purchase the hospital. Both the City of San Clemente and others in the community have been in real discussions with two hospital providers that want to serve our community. “This move is another betrayal and abandonment of our community,” expressed Gialamas. “We plead with Congressman Issa, Senator Pat Bates, Assemblyman Bill Brough, and Supervisor Lisa Bartlett to bring the stakeholders together to discuss a possible sale and transition for the Hospital and ER.”