Diagnosing the Expansion of Scripps Memorial Hospital

— December 8th is the last day the public can comment on the impacts the expansion of Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas will have on the community. The project consists of seven phases, over a 13-year period, and will practically double the size of the current community hospital. The project includes new medical offices, a new parking structure, a bigger critical care unit, and 110 new beds.

On November 20th, 18 days before the deadline for public comment, the Encinitas Planning Commission held a public workshop meeting. Council chambers looked more like a crowded waiting room than a meeting of the city’s planning commission.

Doctors dressed in smocks, nurses, members of the staff, all employed by the nonprofit health organization, attested to the need for an updated medical facility. Former patients of Scripps Memorial spoke about the great care they received while in hospice there. They said proper medical care is far more important than the impacts from construction and increases in traffic from the project.

Those opposed to the expansion looked more like ignored patients, waiting for the next available physician, than concerned residents worried about traffic congestion and noise. They were not convinced the health provider had any regard for the treatment of the neighboring community and used the relocation of the helipad closer to homes and putting one of the two main entrances in a residential community as examples. Furthermore, they were frustrated that officials from Scripps were no longer hearing their complaints.

“We’ve heard a lot of Scripps employees telling us how wonderful the plans are, but it’s basically a commercial for a real estate development,” said one resident just before another speaker likened the public workshop to a “Scripps rally.”

Others supported expanding Scripps, but had concerns about traffic on residential streets and busy Santa Fe Drive, especially since Encinitas city council decided to proceed with the 44-acre Hall Park. They feel that instead of relying on residential streets to get to different access points on the medical campus, the Scripps proposal should include a street inside the facility, aimed at lessening the impact to local communities. Parking was another concern. All parking on the site will be paid-parking only and some residents feel people trying to avoid paying will park on small side streets.

To diagnose the issue for yourself, or for more information on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, download a copy here.

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What, exactly, should "concerned residents" look like? Did the residents all look like they needed some sort of medical treatment? Go back to journalism school.

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