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Hospital Competition

September 04, 1993

Your July 25 article, "Hospitals Map Strategy in War Over Patients," completely misrepresented the competitive position and environment of the two hospitals serving the Thousand Oaks area.

Westlake Medical Center is commencing with an expansion based on our long-term commitment to providing the region with the finest and broadest scope of health care services available. It escapes me how Donald Light justifies labeling our plans for growth " . . . a wonderful example of the kind of unplanned expansion that leads to the spiral of health care costs . . . "

The economic analysis in the article is contradictory. Depending on where you come into the article, the hospital industry is depicted as excessively prosperous or financially embattled.

Health care today is largely managed-care driven. And both in theory and practice, the nature of managed care reduces the cost of health care, and thus profitability, by bringing providers, payers and patients together under a negotiated contract. Westlake currently participates in 53 managed-care contracts, including HMOs and PPOs, that comprise 48% of our patient population. Factor in Medicare, and the majority of our income is derived from cost-regulated sources.

Far from duplicating existing services, Westlake will expand and develop unique programs unavailable elsewhere in our service area. Plans for growth focus on outpatient services such as the surgery center and the Westlake Comprehensive Cancer Center (WCCC). The advent of these programs will increase the scope and quality of medical care in the communities we serve. Reduction in hospital admissions and length of time a patient spends in the hospital will keep everyone's costs down.

Westlake will continue to offer a wide array of community service and outreach programs emphasizing preventive care and health maintenance.

We do not see ourselves in the underdog position. Westlake is structuring for survival in an increasingly regulated, dynamic market. We continue to identify and adjust to market changes. As a result, we strengthen our ability to provide needed medical services at equitable rates, thus ensuring long-term prosperity and continuity of care.

K.D. JUSTYN

Westlake Village

K.D. Justyn is managing director of Westlake Medical Center.

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