Hospital districts in North County turf war – From

Hospital districts in North County turf war


Monday, March 22, 2010 at 1:27 a.m.

NORTH COUNTY — North County’s two rival hospital districts are locked in a war over territory.

Palomar Pomerado Health of inland North County has been sued by the smaller Tri-City Healthcare District, accused of encroaching on Tri-City’s coastal area by opening retail clinics in grocery stores.

“This kind of conflict is unprecedented,” said Michael Ott, executive officer of the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, which regulates boundaries of special districts. “In my years (in the commission), I’ve never encountered a situation like this.” Palomar Pomerado covers 800 square miles that include much of the cities of Escondido, San Marcos and Poway. Tri-City serves 132 square miles that include Oceanside, Vista and Carlsbad. The state assigned their boundaries, and taxpayers partially support both districts. Palomar’s net revenue for the current fiscal year is $460 million; Tri-City is projecting $330 million. Tri-City is recovering from a series of internal upheavals, which included the board of trustees firing seven executives and physicians questioning the competence of the elected board.

Palomar Pomerado has aggressively built its brand, winning voter approval of a $496 million bond measure to partly fund a $925 million hospital under construction in Escondido. The district also hired former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and former local TV anchor Carol LeBeau to be its ambassadors and opened two retail clinics in Albertsons stores in Escondido and Rancho Peñasquitos. Now Palomar Pomerado wants to open clinics in San Elijo Hills in southern San Marcos and in Temecula — outside its boundaries — and one in Oceanside, which is in Tri-City’s service area. Its board approved $200,000 to design and “investigate” the three new clinics in February.

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