The Tri-City medical center loses its baby activity in favor of Palomar

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A decision by North County’s largest community clinic to refer its pregnant women to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido threatens the viability of labor and delivery services at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, which provided the vast majority of this work for decades.

Vista Community Clinic, a federally licensed health center serving the region’s most needy patients, said in a statement Tuesday that it will effect the change starting Oct. 16. The move will reduce income in Tri-City and likely require longer trips for some to give birth.

The Oceanside Hospital administration made no comment on Tuesday, but the publicly available data clearly indicates that the loss of the Vista Community Clinic will represent a significant reduction in the annual patient volume of its labor and delivery department and from his neonatal intensive care unit.

According to documents filed with the state office of statewide health planning and development, 1,677 babies were delivered at the facility in 2020. A spokesperson for the VCC said in an email that the community clinic had an average of 63 deliveries per month in 2021.

If that average continues through December, the clinic would generate around 756 deliveries per year, or around 45% of Tri-City’s total live births.

Dr Hamid Movahhedian, director of the Tri-City Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, said the drop in volume will make it very difficult for Oceanside Hospital to afford the 24/7 medical staff required to continue. to provide services to newborns in the future.

“Our mother-baby department is in danger of collapsing,” Movahhedian said.

Rocky Chavez, chairman of the hospital’s elected board of directors, said in an email on Tuesday that he had requested that the matter be discussed in detail at the next regular meeting of the medical center board.

Chavez said he suspected external factors had played into the decision.

“We have no control over VCC,” said Chavez. “I imagine they are making these changes because of outside influences.”

The community clinic, which serves more than 70,000 area residents, said the move “brings more advanced resources to patients and staff who will benefit from personalized attention, exceptional care and, more recently, the Palomar installation in Escondido “.

Betsy Heightman, head of development at VCC, disagreed with the claim that outside influences were involved. She said health center patients will directly benefit from Palomar facilities, which were recently moved from the medical complex recently sold by the health system in downtown Escondido to the new tower of Palomar medical center which has opened in 2012 on Citracado Parkway in a company west of Escondido. to park.

The viability of Tri-City’s neonatal services is of the utmost importance to the three cities – Oceanside, Carlsbad and Vista – that give the public health district its name.

Pregnant women who are due to give birth immediately, or who are in immediate danger due to a medical complication, should travel 13 miles east of Palomar or nearly 15 miles south of Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas, the two most important facilities. closer other than the Navy to Camp Pendleton Hospital, which is not accessible to civilians.

These distances, although they can be traveled in an ambulance with flashing lights and sounding sirens, are significantly more intimidating when highway traffic is at its peak.

Movahhedian, who has been in his post for more than two decades, said that staffing a hospital’s labor and delivery department for 24-hour operation and running a neonatal intensive care unit offers the advantage of having specialists on call and ready to react quickly when a pregnant patient arrives in the emergency room.

“Our Tri-City emergency physicians are not comfortable caring for sick newborns or resuscitating premature babies,” Movahhedian said.

The move to Palomar will also mean changes for pregnant women at the Vista Community Clinic. For many years, the obstetrician they see on antenatal visits has often been the same doctor delivering their babies in Tri-City. The plan, the health center confirmed on Tuesday, is for a pair of obstetricians assigned to Palomar to attend to all VCC deliveries, but they would no longer also be involved in antenatal care.

The clinic said a similar care model had worked for the health centers it now operates in La Habra and Lake Elsinore.


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