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Timetable Laid Out for Hospital

If the company planning to build the hospital breaks deadline, it’ll pay a $5 million penalty.

City officials gave a business planning to build a hospital in Temecula a choice: make a deadline or pay $5 million.

The Temecula City Council voted Tuesday to approve permits for the planned hospital, but only on two conditions.

First, the hospitals’ foundations must be poured before Feb. 2012. Second, the company must start construction on the second phase within five years of the first phase’s grand opening.

If the company misses its deadline, it has to pay the city $5 million.

The company in charge of the project, Universal Health Services, submitted plans to build a hospital in Temecula in 2004. In January of 2006, the city approved the plan.

In the following years, the company missed numerous deadlines to start building set by the city. It was also cited repeatedly by regulatory agencies for unsafe practices.

Southwest Healthcare Systems, the branch of Universal that runs facilities in Menifee, Murrieta and Wildomar, went through a complete change of administrators in the last few years.

Council members said they were sick of watching the company drag the process out. “That’s the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room. As long as we have Southwest Healthcare Systems protracting a myth of building a hospital, no other hospital project wants to build in Temecula,” said Councilman Mike Naggar. “I want to find out how we can get them to build a hospital or go away.”

Some residents at the meeting agreed. “This company needs to stand up and start moving,” said Wayne Hall, a Temecula resident.

The amount of money the company recently spent to rework the plan shows the company is serious, said William Seed, Universal’s vice president of construction and design.

The company spent more than $8 million remaking the plans after breaking its last deadline in October, he said. “We spent the last 10 months redesigning the hospital, said Seed. “We’re not going to walk away from it.”

Some council members thought the investment was inconsequential. “Eight million is chump change to reserve a market share,” Naggar said.

The company is dragging the process out on purpose in order to make sure no other hospitals go up in the area. That way when the economy picks up, the company can build in Temecula with no competition, Naggar said.

That officials suspect the company of something so unscrupulous shows how little trust the city has for it, said Paul Jacobs, a Temecula resident. “Southwest has squandered all our good faith,” he said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated Southwest Healthcare Systems went through bankruptcy. Valley Health System, an unrelated company, went bankrupt, and Southwest, along with many other companies, was a creditor in the proceedings. Southwest Healthcare System did not, however, go through bankruptcy, according to Frank Lopez, regional vice president for Southwest Healthcare Systems.

Troy Sage February 09, 2011 at 02:21 PM
I don't like the idea of allowing them more time. It is my humble opinion that this group should be forced to pay a penalty for all the delays, and be asked to step away from the project. This is the same group that is consistently under investigation and charged with negligence at their current facilities in Murrieta and Menifee. I say lets get a hospital in Temecula, but lets solicit other groups and other networks. Find a Medical group that actually cares how well the facility is built and want to honestly help people, not just their board members.
Roberta Wrye February 09, 2011 at 04:45 PM
I agree with Mr. Sage. It's time for Southwest Healthcare to put up or shut up. I'd like to see them totally go away so that a company that is serious about quality healthcare has a chance to provide our area with a quality hospital. Southwest has had years of opportunities, and still nothing.
Steve Newman February 09, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Southwest can't efficiently operate Inland Valley or Rancho Springs, and they still haven't opened up thier expansions that were done before Loma Linda Murrieta started. I don't think they should be given a chance to build a hospital in Temecula, what with their reputation with the State. That will be a long drawn out process and end in frustration for Temecula residents. Cut them loose and let someone else build.
deleted February 09, 2011 at 06:02 PM
I think it would be irresponsible to allow this company to continue given their proven inability to get the job done as well as the significant evidence of incompetance at their existing facilities. Let's not waste any more time, lets find another, more reliable company to bring a hospital facility to Temecula.
Dawn February 10, 2011 at 03:41 PM
I don't understand why a company would want to build a hospital that no one will go to. I would never step foot in a building owned and run by anyone that has to do with Southwest Healthcare system. I take my family to Fallbrook Hospital and Children's in San Diego. Once again why as a City would we allow someone to build that can't even stay up on the few that they have already. I feel that it is a big mistake to allow them to build. They had their opportunity to comply with the other citations that they had and they did not. What are we saying as a City? Treat patients like crap, get citation after citation and yes go ahead a build another germ and disease factory that you are incapable of running properly. This is not a good thing for our community. When that new hospital goes bankrupt then we just have a monstroscity of a building to look at. It won't work in our beautiful city. Please let them go kill people somewhere else instead of our beautiful valley.
Art February 10, 2011 at 10:16 PM
It was a horrible place for a hospital anyway. Paseo Del Sol and Paloma will get to listen to ambulances, and helicopters flying in at all hours of the night. The traffic will be a nightmare. Any new hospital should be on the west side of the 15 freeway in the industrial areas.
BST February 11, 2011 at 02:54 AM
I agree 200% with Dawn's statement and Art Millers statement. I got hurt badly almost 2 years ago and wouldn't set foot at either of those hospitals:Rancho Springs OR Inland Valley. I went to Pendleton, 35 minute drive winding,bumpy drive...but I am alive. Also, why is this City set on building a hospital in the main stream of traffic and Homes?? I agree, they should have built the hospital on the West side of the 15 fwy where there is LOTS of room and NO ONE will be inconvenienced by the traffic and noise pollution. This City is going DOWN the tubes very fast and all the City Council cares about is MONEY and how big we can grow. They said once before they want to be like Los Angeles, Why? I don't other wise I would have NEVER bought a house here 6 years ago!!!!!! Why won't they LISTEN to the people that live hear,and I mean really listen to everyone. The vast majority of the people do NOT want this city to continue the path it is on, this high growth and the HIGH CRIME that is now everywhere. They listen to the people but still do what THEY WANT regardless so they can make a name for themselves. This city used to be very quaint and charming and now it is becoming very rigid,hard,greedy,and a mound of Cement. Sure they put few parks etc here and there but they don't maintain the landscaping,trees etc. Don't let the hospital build...take the money and buy land W of the fwy.
deleted February 14, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Brenda, I have to disagree with your assertion about high crime in Temecula. In fact Temecula has a very low crime rate for a city of it's population. The facts are readily available to support this.
BST February 15, 2011 at 03:11 AM
John, not sure where you are getting your information from, but my neighbor has someone that WORKS at the police department and the crime rate has more than doubled in the last several years. Not only crime but the huge increase in gangs in this area has also grown. This person,friend/relative, of my neighbor said that the "city" doesn't want the community to know that the crime has increased/gang activity because of obvious reasons. They want the money they get for protection to be used for other things is my guess.
deleted February 15, 2011 at 03:34 PM
The Temecula Police Department is comprised of Riverside Sheriff's Department personnel assigned to the contract to provide police services to the city of Temecula. All funds paid to the department are very specifically allocated to specific purposes and cannot be used for other things. I recommend you actually do some research if you believe there is a crime increase in Temecula. I have done the research and crime is definitely not high based on the population of our city. We have one of the best officer to citizen ratios in the state.
Anita Louise Cressy January 05, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Let's stay focused........this is not about crime. We have great Police coverage and LOW CRIME. We must have a hospital and we all want excellence in all aspects from construction to Staff and Care.

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