What Does San Diego’s Academic Hospital Mean For The Community?
UC San Diego Health’s new $943 million hospital – Jacobs Medical Center – is scheduled to open later this year. Though the new facilities will offer state-of-the-art cancer treatments and other specialty services, some are concerned that it will wipe out half of the emergency services offered to San Diego’s underserved, and often times uninsured population.
In a recent article published in Modern Healthcare, Marty Graham takes a closer look at the impacts of this medical facility from multiple angles, including how it impacts patient outcomes on both sides of the socioeconomic divide, and what it means for neighboring competition in terms of profit.
The cost to patients
A senior researcher with Mathematica Policy Research, Ha Tu, author of the California Health Care Foundation report, concluded that the new hospital was planned around the well-insured – wealthy – population.
“It was a very deliberate move on UCSD’s part to move services into Scripps’ backyard,” Tu said. “Opening up a high-end facility in this market with these lucrative specialties harkens back to the medical arms race.”
The opening of Jacobs may very well be the first signs suggesting a shift in reduced UCSD presence in the densely populated, underserved, and often times uninsured area of Hillcrest, who have been highly reliant upon emergency services, concerning many of the San Diego health system’s staff, which has been long since rooted in serving the city’s low income sector.
“We are very concerned about there being less resources available—it means Scripps Mercy will assume the burden of caring for the underinsured and uninsured,” said Barbara Price, Scripps Health’s vice president of business development.
Preparing to celebrate 50 years of service in Hillcrest, concerned medical staff serving these communities believe wholeheartedly that without their extensive Hillcrest experience and influence, Jacobs wouldn’t even be in the works.
According to California healthcare business analyst John Nackel, “in California, costs per bed are literally twice that of any other place in the nation, New York included. Because of regulatory requirements and seismic-safety requirements, it’s impossible to rationally compare costs.”
Nacker believes that in terms of rankings and geography, the new facilities should have no trouble finding its place in the San Diego County healthcare market.