Historic hospital expansion nears completion
Fifty years ago today, the doors opened to Encinitas’ first hospital. And what began as a small facility providing long-term convalescent care has grown into a busy, full-service medical facility that cares for more than 80,000 patients a year.
And as it celebrates its heritage, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas is about to start a new chapter to meet the changing needs of North County. The new Critical Care Building at Scripps Encinitas is expected to open for patient care in summer 2014.
The 61,643-square-foot, two-story Critical Care Building will house a 26-bed emergency department on the first floor, which will more than double the size of the hospital’s current ER. The second floor will include 36 medical-surgical beds for patients recovering from surgery or acute illnesses.
“Our founding physicians built this hospital to meet the growing health care needs of the community, and that spirit is still alive and well today,” said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health. “We’re proud of the strong legacy we’ve established in providing the highest quality of care to our patients.”
As a nonprofit health system, Scripps relies on the community’s philanthropic support to help expand and upgrade its facilities. To date, Scripps has raised $39 million of the $58 million in philanthropy needed to complete the Encinitas expansion, which will also include a specialized ER observation unit, diagnostic equipment and additional operating rooms in the main hospital. Scripps will host the Encinitas Gala April 26 to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to help with its fundraising goals. In addition to philanthropy, the expansion will be funded via borrowing and operating margin.
The early years
Scripps Encinitas has grown from humble roots. In 1960, Dwight Cook, M.D., and the late Charles Clark, M.D., bought property on Santa Fe Drive and Devonshire Road to build a small medical-dental building for their practice. They soon realized the community needed to expand its health care infrastructure, so they turned to patient and friend Herman “Pop” Wiegand, who put up his Bank of America stock as collateral for a loan to build a hospital on the same property.
On April 9, 1964, the doors opened to Encinitas Convalescent Hospital, which was licensed to provide long-term care for patients recovering from illness or surgery. Later that year, the hospital’s third founding physician, Ronald Summers, M.D., joined the practice of Drs. Cook and Clark. They obtained a medical specialty license and converted some of the long-term care beds to acute care beds, enabling them to start taking care of medical illnesses. By 1966, the hospital was upgraded to a specialized hospital for internal medicine and was renamed Encinitas Hospital.
In 1967, the founding doctors bought an adjoining parcel of land to the north for future development. Eight years later, they entered into a partnership on a major hospital expansion, which added full medical-surgical capabilities, an intensive care unit, a comprehensive emergency department and raised its capacity to 94 beds. The newly named San Dieguito Hospital opened in 1975.
As the business of health care changed, the founding physicians realized they needed more support to sustain and grow the hospital. They approached Scripps Health about purchasing the facility, based on their familiarity with Scripps’ high standards of care and community service. The sale to Scripps was completed in 1978, and the facility was renamed Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas.
Meeting community needs
“We’ve been proud to evolve over the years to meet the growing health care needs of North County residents,” said Carl Etter, senior corporate vice president with Scripps Health and chief executive of Scripps Encinitas. “We’re North County’s first certified stroke center, we have a world-class rehabilitation program, he have over 40,000 ER visits annually and we deliver nearly 2,000 babies a year. And that’s just scratching the surface of the care we provide.”
Before the Critical Care Building, the hospital’s most recent expansion took place in 1992, including the addition of a birth pavilion, second-floor rehabilitation, an enlarged emergency department and over 60 acute-care beds.
In addition to Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, Scripps offers multiple outpatient locations throughout North County, including Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal Medical Center locations in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, Solana Beach and Encinitas.
Those interested in learning about opportunities to support Scripps Encinitas can call 760-633-7722.
- Stephen Carpowich