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A Healthy Choice of Hospitals : Region Is Served by 5 Facilities


"Our size is our advantage," she said. "We provide state-of-the-art equipment in a very personalized setting."

Among the options available to patients: the Rx Pets program, which allows dog visits to rooms.

Pomerado Hospital and Palomar Medical Center together have an annual payroll of about $80 million.

Some 20,000 patients visited Pomerado's emergency room last year. There were about 6,000 admissions, 34,700 outpatients, and more than 1,600 births.

Villa Pomerado, a 149-bed skilled nursing facility, is attached to the hospital by a corridor. It serves as a transitional environment for those just released from the hospital, and it also provides physical, occupational and speech rehabilitation therapy.

The facility also offers respite care that allows home care-givers to take a break. A family member who is ill or disabled and needs support care can be temporarily checked into the facility while the primary care-giver is out of town or otherwise unable to offer care.

Since September, Villa Pomerado has filled another role.

It is now one of the only places in the county where rape victims receive treatment from specially trained nurses in a private environment.

Police from all over the county work with Pomerado's sexual assault and response team, called SART. One room at Villa Pomerado is set aside for rape patients. "It is a lot less threatening an environment than an emergency room," said Barron.

Six of Pomerado Hospital's nurses have been trained in evidence gathering techniques in sexual assaults. A social worker also is there to help the victim deal with the emotional trauma.


624 East Elder , Fallbrook Calls: 728-1191 Beds: 50 Staff: 300

Annual admissions: 3,457

At just 50 beds, Fallbrook Hospital is the smallest in North County.

"The patient is not an account number, but an individual and is treated with dignity. That's something that comes through," said Don N. Larkin, Fallbrook Hospital's chief executive officer.

Last year there were 10,793 emergency room patients, 3,457 admissions, 10,904 outpatient visits and 1,161 births.

Fallbrook, which has a high number of births for its size, recently built a new maternity unit.

In a $1.2-million addition completed last year, four new suites for labor, delivery and postpartum were added. Included in the project was an operating room and 12 nursery bassinets.

Fallbrook Hospital's modest size lends it a flexibility that allows it to stay current, said Denise Stearns, chief marketing officer. As an example, she cited the pain management center that opened in October.

The program was started by two physicians who received special training in treating chronic pain.

The center outfits patients who have chronic pain, such as that caused by cancer, with a tiny pump that is placed under their skin and releases minute doses of painkiller directly into the spine. The amount of medication needed by using this method is much reduced and relieves the patient of many side effects.

The decision to open the center was swift, said Stearns. "It's part of our mission to have a commitment to innovation. These are times in health care when you have to be ahead of the game."

Other hospital programs include a diabetes support group, a sports injury clinic and a cardiac rehabilitation workshop.

The hospital has a staff of 300 and an annual payroll of $7.5 million.

Fallbrook's 400-member auxiliary is active and offers free rides to and from the hospital and doctors' offices.


354 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas Calls: 753-6501 Beds: 148 Staff: 400

Annual admissions: 4,000

There is an atrium, mahogany furniture, flowers and open space in the lobby of Scripps Memorial Hospital-Encinitas. Other physical amenities: a secluded, comfortably furnished meditation room.

"Look at the root of the word hospital. It comes from hospitality," said C. Michael Dabney, director of media relations. "Yet, often people have a negative impression of the idea of a hospital. There's a lingering negative feeling, and so the more we can make the hospital seem like it's exuding personal care the better."

Some 4,000 patients checked in to the Scripps Encinitas hospital last year. About 16,254 were seen in the emergency room, and about 7,000 were treated on an outpatient basis. The 148-bed hospital has a staff of more than 400 and paid out some $30 million in wages and benefits last year.

Last January, Scripps completed a $17-million expansion that increased the number of beds from 93 to 146.

It has a new eight-bed cancer center and 30-bed rehabilitation wing designed for stroke and head injury recuperation.

A sauna and gymnasium help with physical therapy, and a transitional apartment is used to allow patients to relearn living skills, such as cooking and housecleaning.

A further $5-million renovation begun over the summer will increase the surgery department by two operating suites; increase the number of beds in the intensive care/cardiac care unit from 8 to 20; and improve facilities in a number of other departments.

Scripps is also planning to build a major medical complex in San Marcos.

So far, Scripps has purchased 36 acres and intends to purchase about 30 more before breaking ground on the project next year.

The first stage calls for construction of a clinic and doctors' offices. Later, construction would start on the hospital itself.

The project will be paced according to the needs of the San Marcos community, according to Laurence Blagg, executive vice president of Scripps Hospitals.

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