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Urgent-care center options surface

June 21, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The Heffernan Memorial Hospital District board could quickly open an urgent-care center at the old Highway 98 hospital by bringing in a physicians' group from San Diego or the Imperial Valley, according to officials from San Diego's Sharp HealthCare.

Sharp HealthCare is a not-for-profit health-care organization that operates seven hospitals and six urgent-care centers in San Diego County.

Calexico officials recently listened to Sharp's recommendation when they met with Alison Fleury, Sharp's senior vice president of business development, and others, in San Diego.

Heffernan Memorial Hospital District trustees did not attend the meeting.

One of the Calexico officials who did attend, Mayor John Renison, categorized the gathering as a "fact-finding mission."

He said the city was given "good solid direction" as to how the health-care needs of Calexico could be met.

Renison said construction of a new hospital in Calexico will depend on millions of dollars of annual subsidies from the federal government.

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He said Sharp's officials told him a city like Calexico, nestled on the border, couldn't support a hospital without the assistance.

"They said ‘We don't think a hospital is feasible in the near future,'" Renison related.

Renison said the City Council needs to try and get those federal dollars to make a hospital feasible. If it is successful securing the funds, Renison said an organization such as Sharp HealthCare might be enticed to Calexico.

As for the future of the Calexico hospital building and the prospect of an urgent-care center there, Renison said it all depends on what the Heffernan district board does.

Lately that has meant listening to proposals in brief board meetings, taking no action on those proposals and then meeting in closed session.

Contacted Thursday, trustees Ray Falcon and Rosie Fernandez both would not speak about the latest actions or inactions of the Heffernan board.

Sources close to the district board said Thursday that the board is talking with Pioneers Memorial Health Care District about opening up an urgent-care clinic in Calexico.

Pioneers' Chief Executive Officer Richard Mendoza said he has been approached by Ray Falcon.

"We're helping them evaluate options," he said Thursday.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or aclaverie@aol.com

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