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Costs scuttle plans for care unit

Company no longer looking at old hospital for medical stays

Posted: August 6, 2008 9:17 p.m.
Updated: October 8, 2008 5:04 a.m.

The private health care company that plans to build a transitional care unit in Santa Clarita backed out of escrow on the purchase of the former Hillside Community Hospital building in Saugus and is in negotiations for a site next door, a city planner said Wednesday.

G&E Healthcare has been planning a 75-bed transitional care unit at the old hospital site off of Golden Triangle Road in the Centre Pointe Business Park in Saugus. The company, which runs Astoria Nursing and Rehab Center in Sylmar, has been interested in purchasing the site for at least a year and a half, said Senior Planner Jeff Hogan.

"The project costs became so much greater than the original budget for a variety of reasons," said Craig Peters, who is the executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis real estate company and is representing G&E Healthcare. "To build a new facility on that particular site, it just wasn't a feasible project."

Transitional care units are typically occupied by those who have been released from the hospital but are not yet ready to head home. The majority of the patients are usually seniors.

Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital closed its TCU in June amid protests from local seniors who now travel outside the Santa Clarita Valley for their transitional care.

"I think there are a lot of people that realize the importance of this facility and there are a lot of people working very hard to make that happen," Peters said.

G&E Healthcare is in negotiations with John Laing Homes for 23 acres of land next to the old hospital site, Hogan said. The land is predominantly flat with a hillside in the back, he said.

City Councilwoman Laurene Weste announced in May that G&E Healthcare had entered into escrow on the purchase of the $30 million building. Weste, who is a member of the council's TCU committee, had said it could take two to three years before the new facility opens its doors because the timeline is contingent on state approval.

The Santa Clarita Valley now has only one skilled nursing facility - a convalescent hospital in Newhall - and it's usually at capacity, according to Brad Berens, director of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center. Many now use the Astoria facility, which had been the most frequently used skilled nursing facility outside of Santa Clarita, he said.

In June, the city and the senior center began offering transportation to Sylmar for families with patients staying at Astoria.


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