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Open Forum on Hospital Expansion Fuels Debate

An open forum on the proposed 25 year Master Plan by Henry Mayo Hospital and G&L Realty was held last night at Valencia United Methodist Church.

The forum was brought about to let the public sit in on presentations from both sides of the proposed hospital expansion which include Smart Growth SCV, who oppose the current plan as it is written, and Henry Mayo Hospital, represented by CEO Roger Seaver. The format was pre-determined as one 15 minute presentation by each side, followed by one 10 minute rebuttal each, and then ending with questions from the audience.

It was a packed house, with standing room only.

Smart Growth SCV took to the podium first and immediately explained that they are not against hospital expansion; they are simply against this particular plan of expansion that they believe cannot exist on Henry Mayo’s campus. They cited the increased traffic which, at a low estimate stands at 12,300 additional cars a day in that area. Even the revised traffic remedies the hospital wrote into the plan such as additional lanes and extended turn lanes, will not be enough to curb that amount of traffic on McBean Parkway.

There is also cause for concern over a 487 space parking shortfall at the end of the plan which they fear will spill over onto residential streets.

And the accessibility of the hospital came into question as well. With the city poised for tremendous growth, the idea of expanding this one hospital, instead of building another closer to east side residents doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to Smart Growth SCV. And there is also the hospital Master Plan itself, which in some portions guarantees rent producing medical office construction, but opts to fully expand hospital services and facilities on an as needed basis, as analyzed by G&L Realty

Smart Growth quoted words from the SCV General Plan of development which cites that the “clustering of new development is compatible with the character of the existing surrounding neighborhoods.

In short, they feel that overloading the streets on and around this residential neighborhood with the traffic and noise this plan would bring, coupled with the lack of a promise in the plan to actually build much else other than medical office buildings, will compromise health care and the community at the profit of G&L Realty.

Roger Seaver, CEO of Henry Mayo Hospital came front and center next, and offered a word of advice for the crowd, saying that; “The scope of this 25 year expansion is hard to handle all at once,” and insisted that the plan is designed to grow with the community, and would not cause all of the estimated repercussions at once. He mentioned that the thoughts of a new east side hospital must be taken in stride with the fact that no new hospital has been build in Southern California in the past 25 years,

Mr. Seaver also stated that the hospital plan is meant to meet the growing need of Santa Clarita not only in having a center with enough care, but also a center with the best care. The medical office buildings, he said, are being built to attract and accommodate medical specialists, who will in turn provide this community with quality healthcare across the board. As it is now, many residents are forced to be ‘outsourced’ to other hospitals.

It was never imagined to be a night of compromise between the two parties, and there was little of that. In fact, there were a few items brought up that bore facts in complete contradiction to the other side.

In one example, Smart Growth SCV claimed that during the time Henry Mayo was in bankruptcy, there were three buyout offers on the hospital, none of which were taken. Roger Seaver claimed there were none, saying: “Maybe they sent those offers to you, but I didn’t get them.”

On November 21st at 7:00, the SCV planning commission will meet at City Hall. Residents are encouraged to attend, to further participate in this decision.

 
Jon Dell
KHTS AM 1220 News
11-13-06