By Luis Alonso Pérez
When Chula Vista patients visit the 4th and H Street Scripps hospital they may not notice that some small changes have occurred, like, that it is now named Scripps Mercy instead of Scripps Memorial. But this is only the beginning of a series of changes that will be happening at the hospital since Chula Vista and Mercy merged to become one hospital.
The California Department of Health Services initially approved the merge of Scripps Mercy in Hillcrest and Scripps Memorial in Chula Vista, under one license and one name, on October 1st. They will now be known as Scripps Mercy Hospital, with two campuses, South and Central.
Chula Vista has been part of the Scripps health care system since 1986. “Actually it joined for the same reason” said Tom Gammiere, Chief Executive for both campuses. “The hospital was struggling financially and had to find a partner”.
When the south bay hospital first joined Scripps it was a more of a structural change, in terms of the administrative aspects of a system, but not as clinical opportunities.
During the last four or five years they continued to struggle financially, so it presented an opportunity to merge the two together, work together clinically and support one another.
Now there is only one hospital with two campuses. They are beginning to work together to provide opportunities for contracting and working with physicians from the central campus, as well as lowering management and administration costs.
But the merge wasn’t only financially motivated. It was also a way of giving the South Bay community the advantage of the resources of a larger hospital in a much more direct way. Scripps Mercy has been named among the top 50 and 100 hospitals in the United States.
To preserve and enhance their presence in the south bay, Scripps will continue working with the physicians in the community and start developing programs to meet their needs. According to Doctor Diogo Belo, outgoing Chief of Staff of the Chula Vista campus, “the new combined entity will provide opportunity for the medical staffs to work toward accomplishing much for both hospitals while supporting the Scripps organizations as a whole.”
Chula Vista is one of the communities with the highest growth rate in California, and there are future medical needs as the population grows “we feel fortunate here to have the opportunity to be a part of that, ” said Gammiere.
Doctor James Santiago Grisolía, Chief of Medicine at Scripps Mercy hospital, considers that the Hispanic community suffers from high rates of chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and depression.
The Hillcrest hospital has a full range of cardiac programs. Tom Gammiere hopes those programs will soon be expanded and available to the community in the south bay. In addition, the Chula Vista campus has a family practice residency program, so the merger will enhance cooperation with the internal medicine teaching program at the central campus.
“The merger will protect and expand the family medicine residency at the Chula Vista campus, many residents will stay to become bilingual primary care doctors in the community,” said Dr. Grisolía.
“What we initially believe we need to do is make investments so patients in Chula Vista can have access to outpatient imaging related services, outpatient surgical programs and radiation therapy,” said Gammiere. “We are still in the transition period, so we are still doing some planning and determining what exactly we can do as far as specific programs.”
According to Dr. Grisolía “The actual combining of functions will be very gradual, our medical staffs are just starting the process of coming up with joint procedures on how to do things. Mr. Gammiere expects to see improved revenue very soon, and savings in combined administrative costs will pick up gradually over the next few months.”
“The community can expect that the excellent physicians at Scripps Chula Vista will continue to focus on the needs of the south bay community. Now they will have more facilities and resources to meet those needs”.