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Desert Palms Community Hospital, Palmdale, California

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InceHospital-HarlowJonesIn March 1996, owners of the 119-bed Desert Palms Community Hospital in Palmdale, California closed. About 235 employees lost their jobs, and the few remaining patients were transferred to Lancaster Community Hospital, 13 miles to the north.

When Desert Palms closed, the town of 110,000 people was left without a hospital or emergency department.

Before its closure, 90 percent of Desert Palms’ admissions came from the emergency department.

Hospital administration blamed the decision on the financial impact from a higher number of uninsured patients and the infrastructure as modified by payers such as health maintenance organizations.

The one-story facility sat squarely on the San Andreas Fault, thus preventing Desert Palms from ever expanding. The owners at the time the hospital closed acquired the facility three years before it closed when the hospital was in bankruptcy. The financial problems faced by Desert Palms went back 20 years.

When managed care became a staple throughout Los Angeles County in the 1980’s, 40 additional hospitals closed before Desert Palms.

According to Jim Lott, senior vice president for advocacy at the Healthcare Association of Southern California: “We have concerns whenever a community has greater than a 20-minute ride by ambulance to the nearest emergency room.”

When Desert Palms closed in 1996, only two emergency rooms in the region remained. A newly built Palmdale Regional Medical Center, however, is expected to open in 2011.

Photo credit: www.29palmshistorical.com

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Posted: August 1, 2014

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Category: All, California, Lost Hospitals

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