A nonprofit group has retained an attorney to consider legal action to keep Saddleback Memorial’s San Clemente campus open. Photo: Jim Shilander
 Photo: Jim Shilander

By Eric Heinz

Key figures in the effort to keep a functioning hospital, or at least an emergency room, in San Clemente met Dec. 9 to update the public on the progress of keeping the city’s only hospital and Dana Point’s nearest hospital, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, operational.

Dozens of people attended the meeting at the San Clemente Community Center.

Since fall of 2014, when the prospect of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s emergency room closure came to light, community organization Save San Clemente Hospital, state legislators and area cities’ City Council members have rallied to keep the hospital open.

If nothing else, groups like Save San Clemente Hospital want a freestanding emergency room to remain, but freestanding emergency rooms are currently not allowed under California state law.

Sen. Patricia Bates said during the meeting the bills authored by herself and Assemblyman Bill Brough have drawn “strong opposition” from nurses unions and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Currently, the city of San Clemente is in the process of possibly rezoning the area on which the hospital sits for medical use or hospitals only. This would require Saddleback Memorial to have some kind of medical operation on the land.

Brough said there are a few ideas to present to the Legislature when it reconvenes Jan. 4. He said the two bills he and Bates authored, A.B. 911 and S.B. 787, will be heard by a legislative committee on Jan. 12 and 13. The bills would essentially allow for a freestanding emergency room or satellite emergency room in San Clemente.


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