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May 22, 2024
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Local hospitals thrive five years after county purchase

Saint Louise, De Paul see expanded services in Gilroy, Morgan Hill since 2019

After nearly losing two critical medical centers in Santa Clara County five years ago to bankruptcy, both are now thriving and experiencing tremendous growth under the stewardship of Santa Clara Valley Healthcare, according to county officials.

O’Connor Hospital (OCH) in San Jose, St. Louise Regional Hospital (SLRH) in Gilroy and the De Paul medical facility in Morgan Hill—now VHC Morgan Hill—teetered on the brink of closure five years ago, potentially leaving hundreds of thousands of county residents without convenient, high-quality health care. 

The county assumed control of all three medical facilities on March 1, 2019, at the cost of $235 million. 

“Five years ago, tens of thousands of Santa Clara County residents faced the real possibility they would be left without close access to hospital care, until the county stepped in to purchase O’Connor and St. Louise,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor and Board President Susan Ellenberg. “Now those same residents receive quality and compassionate care thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff who truly make our county healthcare system shine.”

The purchase ensured critical health care would remain for more than 120,000 South County residents who were facing the possibility of not having a local hospital, says a press release from Santa Clara County. The importance of the purchase is magnified by the fact that many smaller hospitals across California and the U.S. face closure or reduction of services—including hospitals in locations such as Hollister and Madera.

“Our healthcare system expansion which includes St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy and Valley Health Center in Morgan Hill extend a critical lifeline for South County residents,” said Supervisor Sylvia Arenas. “Today, we celebrate healthcare equity that brings critical and first-rate medical care to all county residents, including South County, and effectively reduces healthcare access barriers to meet our community where they are at.”

East San Jose recently saw the announced closure of its only Trauma Center and STEMI Program, which treats severe heart attacks, and it is Santa Clara Valley Healthcare that is stepping in for the public, adds the county’s press release.  

“Acquiring the hospitals and health center has been a big lift, but it has come with such enormous benefit to the community,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian. “I know it hasn’t been easy. I know there have been challenges along the way, but people have really given their best, shown their best side and our community is a better place for it. Thank you.” 

Supervisor Cindy Chavez added, “We have seen with the recent loss of a Trauma Center and STEMI program in East San José, how important it is that the county provide a STEMI program at O’Connor Hospital and the Level 1 Trauma Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Healthy communities are stronger communities and we will not stop serving those in our county who need us the most.”

In 2019, prior to the purchase of OCH and SLRH,  SCVMC served as the single safety-net public hospital in Silicon Valley and provided over 63,877 Emergency Department visits, 121,425 hospital inpatient days and about 10,000 surgical cases, says the press release. The three-hospital system, now known as Santa Clara Valley Healthcare (SCVH), has grown together to provide more than 173,943 ED visits, 220,365 hospital inpatient days, and over 18,848 surgical cases, while serving more than 400,000 individuals on an annual basis. 

Since joining SCVH, O’Connor Hospital inpatient days have jumped 62% to 68,546, while ED visits have risen 39% to 67,063 in 2022-23. At SLRH, inpatient days are up 81% to 19,232, with ED visits climbing 37% to 41,116 for 2022-23.

These three hospitals were essential in serving the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Ensuring healthcare throughout Santa Clara County is another reminder of the incredible services the county provides for everyone,” said Supervisor Otto Lee. “Thankfully we had all three of these facilities to help our county get through the Covid-19 pandemic or we would have lost even more lives.”

The county has continued investing in people, new technology and infrastructure to expand and augment high-quality medical and hospital services. At OCH, recent additions include upgrading the CT and MRI medical imaging equipment, opening five outpatient clinics and further developing programs such as Bariatrics, TAVR and Robotics Surgery.

For SLRH, improvements include adding a SAFE program for those dealing with sexual or physical abuse, implementing a new electronic health record system, expanding physician and nurse recruitment efforts and the recent purchasing of a new CT scanner, according to the county.

“Bringing O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital and former De Paul Health Center, now VHC Morgan Hill, into the County Health System has been invaluable in saving lives and delivering excellent healthcare to Santa Clara County residents,” said James R. Williams, Santa Clara County Executive. “As we recognize the anniversary of this expansion, Santa Clara County will continue its commitment to better health for all.”

OCH is a nationally recognized, acute care facility with 358 patient beds,  offering a full range of inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and specialty programs. It was founded in 1889 as one of the first hospitals in Santa Clara County. SLRH first opened in 1989, offering a wide range of high-quality medical specialties as the only acute care hospital in South County.

Staff Report
Staff Report
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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