University Medical Center Nears Completion

MURRIETA, Calif. — Officials announced that construction on the $211 million Loma Linda University Medical Center in Murrieta is nearly completed.

The five-story facility, scheduled to open in March, will include a medical office building east of the hospital and is predicted to generate about 500 jobs to north Murrieta, with 60 people having already been hired. The new center will employ the areas first “hybrid” operating room, a feature designed to treat heart patients with less invasive procedures. Scanning equipment will be housed inside the operating room, rather than elsewhere in the hospital.

The hospital will add 106 beds to southwest Riverside County, an area with three times fewer hospital beds per capita than the national average. After the facility is open, the Temecula Valley will still have fewer beds than it needs, says hospital CEO Bruce Christian. A proposed third phase would add another 120 beds. Hospital officials have not decided if that phase will begin construction.

The facility is jointly owned by Loma Linda University and a group of doctors — a fact that puts it at odds with a provision in the health care reform law passed by Congress this year that would ban Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to new doctor-owned hospitals. Most hospitals cannot stay open without that funding. The Murrieta hospital is seeking a waiver. Hospital officials have said the medical center will open either way, but Loma Linda could be stuck buying the doctors out if it can’t get the waiver.

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