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Our Opinion: An urgent need

December 28, 2001

Trustees of the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District, the body charged with governing the defunct Calexico Hospital, are looking to the Calexico Redevelopment Agency to fund half the costs associated with bringing the hospital building on Birch Avenue up to state codes needed for the lawful operation of an urgent-care clinic.

We think that's a smart move.

Last week, the district authorized a $1,500 structural analysis of the facility by San Diego-based engineering firm Stedman & Dyson. With a completed analysis due by mid-January, according to hospital board officials, a decision on what improvements need to be done could be coming down fairly quickly.

Quick is the operative word here. There needs to be some kind of medical services in that or another building in Calexico soon. While an urgent-care center in the grand scheme of things isn't much for a city growing by leaps and bounds almost daily, the after-hours operation Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo has promised that the vacant hospital plant will restore 24-hour medical care to the community.


It has been said the ultimate goal of the city and the Heffernan district is to build some kind of hospital in Calexico. The reality is that's likely not going to happen any time soon. What is needed is a day-and-night facility for those soccer-playing, skateboarding kids and others who break a bone or those who become seriously ill after normal business hours.

In order to provide that around-the-clock service, the hospital building must meet state codes that seem to get more stringent every day. Because of the age of Calexico Hospital and the heightened awareness by the state to make medical institutions earthquake-proof, the building will likely need some sort of pricey fixes.

We support the district board asking the RDA to foot half the bill. After all, the RDA does own the building. While it does the district a service by leasing the building for $1 a year, the agency can't give the appearance of an absentee slumlord by not getting involved.

We know the money's there. If the RDA can fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars to developers and others in the name of stimulating the job market and the economy, the same thinking should be applied to this issue. Part of the agency's mission is to better the quality of life in Calexico, and if we're not mistaken the quality of one's life is much better when adequate medical care — especially 24-hour care — is available.

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