Scripps Health to help run hospital along US-Mexico border

Scripps Health will work with a Mexican health insurer to create the region's first hospital aimed to meet the needs of the growing number of Southern Californians who seek medical care south of the border.

The California nonprofit healthcare system announced that it will work with Sistemas Medicos Nacionales S.A. de C.V. (SIMNSA) to help the insurer run the facility in in Tijuana, Mexico. The insurer will design, build and operate the facility, which will seek accreditation from the international arm of the Joint Commission. The facility will be an affiliate of the Scripps Health Network.

The affiliation will transform healthcare delivery in the region, Frank Carrillo, president and CEO of SIMNSA, said in the statement.

It also marks the first binational collaboration on a hospital built to serve patients from both sides of the border. "We live in a binational region where thousands of people cross the border between San Diego and Tijuana daily for work. Access to high-quality healthcare on both sides of the border is important for our regional economy," said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, in the announcement.

The plans call for the hospital to be built in phases. The first phase, which the insurer and health system expect to be completed by early 2017, will consist of an emergency room with four operating rooms, an intensive care unit and 30 inpatient rooms. Once it is fully completed, the hospital will have 200 beds, making it the largest hospital in the state of Baja, California. The hospital will be fully equipped to meet the needs for emergency, cardiology, neurosurgery, oncology, and labor and delivery.

SIMNSA operates a health plan for Mexican Nationals who work in San Diego or Imperial County and prefer to access medical care in Mexico. Its network includes more than 200 physicians along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In an interview with Hospitals & Health Networks, Van Gorder said the health system considered other international opportunities but felt the SIMNSA joint venture made sense because of its plans to build an American-style hospital in Mexico that remains sensitive to the cultural differences of Mexican patients as well as its existing healthcare facilities.

Furthermore, he said, Scripps' relations with SIMNSA may expand because "binational healthcare is something that's here to stay."

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the H&HN article