A new hospital for the Peninsula

The registered voters of the Peninsula Health Care District received a mail-in ballot in early August that seeks a vote on Measure V, the agreement between the district and Mills-Peninsula Hospital Services to build a new community hospital. The site is district land at the El Camino/Trousdale location and meets seismic standards as mandated by state law.

Peninsula Medical Center, the existing hospital, has served the people of the district successfully for more than half a century. Unfortunately, it no longer meets seismic standards and must close by 2013. Expert opinion solicited by the district board and independently by MPHS recommends the construction of a new hospital rather than making seismic retrofits to the existing hospital.

There are numerous advantages favoring this approach. First, the present hospital, built in the 1950s, no longer provides the technologies and architectural standards required for the delivery of today’s health care.

A new hospital will not only meet seismic standards, but will provide modern infrastructure for the delivery of state-of-the-art medical care for the health care needs of the people of the district for years to come. Second, seismic retrofits are likely to interrupt care during retrofitting of the existing facility, reducing access to quality health care for our community.

The essential features of the agreement, the culmination of a lengthy negotiations process between the district board and MPHS and the product of extensive public review, are: First, the construction of a new, $488 million, 243-bed hospital funded by Sutter Health, the nonprofit hospital management company of which MPHS is an affiliate, at no expense to the taxpayers of the district; and second, the granting of a 50-year lease of district land to MPHS for which the district will receive $1.5 million in annual rent adjusted for cost of living increases during the term of the lease.

When the lease terminates, hospital ownership will be transferred to the district, which will acquire the hospital and capital improvements made during the last 25 years of the lease at book value — that is, at the depreciated, heavily discounted value of these assets.

Additional stipulations favor the district in the agreement, including increased oversight guaranteeing that essential services (emergency room, medical, surgical, pediatric, obstetric, imaging and laboratory services) will be provided, and the return to the district of five properties given to MPHS in 1985.

The district Web site, www.peninsulahealthcaredistrict.org, reviews the history of the negotiations and the particulars of the agreement in detail.

This is an extraordinarily good deal for the district and a historic opportunity to have the very best facility built in order to serve the health care needs of the people of the district. No opposition was offered to the ballot argument in favor of Measure V, which deserves a “yes” vote.

Daniel J. Ullyot was director of cardiac surgery at Mills-Peninsula Hospital, Burlingame, a program he founded in 1978. He is retired.

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