San Clemente hospital may shed beds, ER

MemorialCare Health System, a major player in Orange and Los Angeles counties, is laying the foundation for what many in the medical industry believe is the fast-approaching future of health care: the bedless hospital.

MemorialCare said Wednesday it is drawing up a plan to convert its small community hospital in San Clemente into a comprehensive outpatient health center that would offer all the services hospitals provide – except the beds and the emergency room.

If the plan is approved, the 6.1-acre San Clemente site, a satellite hospital to the much larger Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, would be transformed into “the Ambulatory Health Care Campus of the Future,” MemorialCare said.

“We are reaching the inflection point of the shift in our business. Many have called it the great migration: the move from inpatient to outpatient,” said Steve Geidt, CEO of Saddleback Memorial. He said the hospital’s board of directors wants a “fully baked business plan” by next February. If it is approved, the work would start later in 2015.

“We think there is a high likelihood this will make sense, but it’s a very big investment,” Geidt said. “It could be around $40 million. So that’s not a trivial exercise and it’s not something we would do unless we think it will work – and we think it will.”

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