Valley’s Oldest Hospital to Close

Jason Felch, L. A. Times, Aug. 20

The San Fernando Valley’s oldest hospital announced Thursday that it would close its doors later this year, bringing to six the number of announced shutdowns of emergency rooms in Los Angeles County in the last 14 months.

The emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center’s Sherman Way Campus, in Van Nuys, will become the largest of those. It served almost 26,000 patients in the 2002 fiscal year. Northridge’s other campus, on Roscoe Boulevard, will remain open.

The news comes just days after the loss of Elastar Community Hospital in East Los Angeles and in the midst of what health officials say is a crisis in the county’s emergency care facilities that is likely to get worse.

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As in other recent closures, Northridge cited “substantial financial losses” at the Sherman Way campus. A major cause cited by healthcare administrators was the decline in reimbursement that hospitals receive for uninsured patients, many of whom use the emergency room as their primary care facility.

“I don’t think there’s any end to the closures as long as there’s no solution to the uninsured and hospitals treating people without getting paid,” said Peter Warren of the California Medical Assn. “It’s another organ failure in the body of L.A. County, which is already sick.”

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