Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Assemblyman Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) issued the following joint statement today in response to the news that Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s San Clemente campus (San Clemente Hospital) will close on May 31:
“We share the disappointment felt by South Orange County residents over the impending closure of San Clemente Hospital. This closure is a symptom of a much larger problem in California’s health care sector that the Legislature must address. Unless action is taken, we could see more emergency rooms close throughout the state due to the financial and regulatory challenges hospitals are facing.
“While today’s news is a setback for San Clemente and the surrounding communities, we remain committed to preserving emergency services in South Orange County. We are considering all options and are consulting with community members to find a realistic solution that works for the region.”
In January, the Assembly Health Committee rejected Brough’s Assembly Bill 911 and the Senate Health Committee refused to approve Bates’ Senate Bill 787 to keep emergency services available at San Clemente Hospital. These bills would have authorized the hospital to operate a free-standing emergency room under Saddleback’s consolidated license to ensure that emergency services remain available to local residents. The strongest opposition to these bills came from labor unions, whose representatives spoke against them in committee hearings.
Bates and Brough remarked, “With today’s closure announcement comes the loss of 150 good-paying jobs, jobs that South Orange County may never see again. We are hopeful that the labor unions who opposed our bills to save San Clemente Hospital will work with us in good faith to find a solution.”
San Clemente Hospital has served South Orange County for more than 40 years and is the only emergency care facility in San Clemente and neighboring communities. Saddleback Memorial, the hospital’s operator, had considered plans to convert it into an ambulatory health care campus that would provide outpatient surgery and urgent care services.