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Our View: Getting serious about the hospital

Posted: May 7, 2010 7:27 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.
It’s time to get serious.

The bottom line is that the Santa Clarita Valley community needs an expanded Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. It needs that expanded emergency department, the planned helipad — it even needs medical office space that reflects the changing nature of health care.

We are a valley of roughly a quarter-million people, somewhat geographically isolated and with only one hospital. We need the best care center possible.

Which is why it is befuddling that some groups are seemingly intent on stalling the expansion of Newhall Memorial as long as possible.

In late April, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment appealed a February ruling against its lawsuit filed against Santa Clarita over the hospital expansion. The judge ruled there was no “prejudicial abuse of discretion” on the part of the city when it came to the hospital’s master plan.

The reason for the appeal? SCOPE says the judge showed bias when he voiced a personal disbelief in climate change, and that he violated state law in throwing out the lawsuit.

“That judge was just plain wrong,” SCOPE President Lynne Plambeck said.

That reply shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most people on the losing end of a legal argument tend to disagree with the judge.

In addition to the completed emergency-department expansion, Newhall Memorial’s master plan includes the addition of 120 beds, a neonatal intensive-care unit and a helipad.

The sticking point for SCOPE is the planned erection of three medical office buildings that Plambeck says aren’t designed to be environmentally friendly enough.

What will be friendly enough? Being recognized as a federal Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — or LEED — certified “green” facility? There’s a reason you don’t find many LEED-certified hospitals. It’s an expensive option.

We are all for development that is smart, sensible and even environmentally sensitive. We’re also proponents of plans actually being carried out, especially in the face of great need.

In 10 years, Newhall Memorial has transformed itself from a hospital wracked by bankruptcy to a medical center that continues to make strides in what it offers to the community.

Given the changing, specialized nature of the health care industry, it only makes sense to add medical office buildings to a hospital campus.

We salute the hospital for moving forward with its development, despite the lawsuits that continue to be lobbed in its direction.

Make no mistake: It is a good thing for the residents of a community to be concerned with how things are developed.

However, SCOPE’s methodology of opposing and fighting projects by filing baseless lawsuit after lawsuit does nothing to instill good neighborism. Rather, SCOPE comes across like a gang of no-growth zealots who will never be satisfied.

The hospital project has been approved by the city, and by and large met with support from the community. But that is not good enough for the more staunch special-interest groups among us, who would put the wants of a few above the needs of many.

We would encourage Newhall Memorial to make every effort to continue to reach out to the community; to develop in a sensible way; and to take environmentally sensible steps where possible and feasible.

It is our hope SCOPE will endeavor to find solutions through more civil means than constant lawsuits.


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