Fallbrook Hospital sale closes escrow

FALLBROOK – On Sept. 29, the Fallbrook Regional Health District (FRHD) received confirmation of escrow closing on the $4.5 million sale of the closed Fallbrook Hospital to Crestwood Behavioral Health Inc. The new owners will break ground soon on renovations to reopen as the Fallbrook Healing Center.

After nearly three years of searching for a buyer, Crestwood opted to buy the facility that will take patients through county health department referrals. On May 10, the health district board voted unanimously to sell the vacant building at 624 East Elder to Crestwood and ratified the sale at a special meeting July 28 with an intended close of escrow July 31.

However, the health district was notified by the County of San Diego that the property required resolution of a lot line adjustment and a 1989 lien agreement before close of escrow.

“The Fallbrook Healing Center will revitalize that building and bring much-needed health care services to our community,” said FRHD board president Gordon Tinker. “We’re excited to work with Crestwood and their exceptional team on the next steps, which will mean investment and added jobs in our community.”

The close of escrow comes after several regular and special board meetings where more than 300 residents shared feedback with the district board on the sale of the public property. Board members tabled the item at its July 12 regular meeting to do more fact-finding, including personal tours of Crestwood facilities, to address questions raised by the community.

The 50-year-old Fallbrook Hospital closed in November 2014 after soliciting proposals from more than 10 health systems in the region. Several more proposals and offers fell through in the years following as the FRHD spent about $200,000 a year on basic maintenance and security of the building.

The Fallbrook Hospital was last managed under a 30-year lease agreement by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS). The company closed the hospital’s labor and delivery department in September 2014 and announced it planned to shutter emergency and intensive care departments in November of that year. CHS reported to shareholders it lost nearly $6 million operating Fallbrook Hospital in 2013 alone.

Fallbrook’s situation is not unique. Since 2010, a report found that at least 82 rural hospitals have closed across the country with another 700 at risk of closure.

“The board served the FRHD and its constituency with the utmost integrity throughout this long, trying process,” said executive director Bobbi Palmer, MBA, MSW. “Their superb and steadfast leadership ultimately paved the way to reduce barriers to quality health care and cut district costs which allow us to support 35 percent more community health needs for our residents.”

The 100-bed Fallbrook Health Center will bring 108 full-time permanent positions and another 10 part-time positions in addition to the immediate construction jobs. Crestwood has committed at least $2 million for the construction project, though company representatives said it could cost the company up to $4 million.

“We are delighted to be the newest member of the Fallbrook community,” said executive vice president Patty Blum, Ph.D., of Crestwood Behavioral Health Inc. “Today is an exciting and monumental day. This was a long and important community discussion and the result will be to preserve the provision of healthcare at the Fallbrook Hospital site while providing much need behavioral health services.”

The project plans to break ground in the coming months and open in 2018.

6 Responses to "Fallbrook Hospital sale closes escrow"

  1. tlogan   October 6, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Good, can those of us get our jobs back?

  2. Fallbrook Fred   October 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

    A real shame. I can’t help but think that they didn’t have smart marketing or data to find a more appropriate buyer. I have grave concern for what this facility will bring to Fallbrook and what it will mean for their clientele who are released but have nowhere to go.

    This is a terrible turn of events for all involved.

  3. Ken   October 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    This is a real disaster waiting to happen to Fallbrookians and our surrounding communities. It now appears that there is no chance of getting our hospital back. It’s now a drive to either Temecula or Escondido. Have you looked at the traffic on I-15 lately?

    The “Health Care District” was originally formed as a “Hospital District”. Leasing the hospital to a for profit organization meant that the District could not direct tax funds to the Hospital any longer, thus the “Care District” which continues to tax the community essentially for funds that should be going to support a “Non-Profit”, which it originally was, Hospital. In this case they actually started diverting funds from the hospital before the for profit status changed.

    It is now time to repeal the “Health Care District” tax on the people that live, work and depend on non-existent hospital care in Fallbrook and our surround community.

    I worked in health care for over 60 years. Retired as a State Health official and have seen many community hospitals suffer exactly what has happened to Fallbrook. Hospitals would begin to have primarily financial problems and the boards would lease or sell a hospital operation to some for profit organization such as happened in Fallbrook. Unfortunately this has happened in many places in the US. What most Hospital Boards do not consider is the fact that when a patient is hospitalized it has a broader effect than just the patient. Most often an entire immediate family is involved. Hospitalize a patient in Temecula or Escondido the family essentially “moves” with him/her during that hospital stay adding substantial expenses to that family.

    In my opinion this District Board has taken the easy way out and in the process has jeopardized the health of this community. There is also one medical group in town that contributed substantially to the demise of the Fallbrook Hospital. If you are going to practice medicine here then you keep you patients at home and not send them out of town. Very, very poor thanks for being in practice in town that provides your livelihood and substantial income to their organization.

  4. jorge   October 7, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    My town in Ohio had two big hospitals when I was growing up. With a population about the size of Fallbrook.

    Not sure what we’re doing wrong.

  5. tlogan   October 10, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Plus the safety of the surrounding three senior care centers. Really, we will be known as crazy town.

  6. Ray (the real one)   November 3, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Good for the county. More and more people are suffering mental illness without anywhere to go. Good use of that old funky building.


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