UCSD, Scripps executives looking to the future

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

If you get the sense there’s competition between UCSD Medical Center and Scripps Health, you’re right, although the CEOs won’t actually say it in as many words.

Both of San Diego’s major medical providers are in the midst of major expansions and have CEOs who contend their facilities are the best around.

Chris Van Gorder says Scripps is aiming to continue the legacy of Ellen Browning Scripps who donated money 86 years ago for Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Scripps Metabolic Clinic as a “compassionate place of caring” for the ill and injured and as a place to “to research new and promising treatments.”

His counterpart at UCSD, Tom Jackiewicz, says the goal at UCSD is to “hold ourselves out as the best on the planet.”

One can just picture them walking through their neighboring sites off Genesee Avenue — each wondering what cutting-edge piece of equipment or patient-focused feature the other is including. There, adjacent to UCSD’s Thornton Hospital, work is set to start in 2012 on the UCSD Jacobs Medical Center with its three hospitals. Just to the north, at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla work is expected to start in June on a project that calls for three new hospital towers, two medical office buildings and an outpatient center work.

Moving forward

On top of building massive new main hospitals, both groups are moving forward with multi-million-dollar proton therapy centers for cancer treatment and research use, and both have new cardiovascular centers in the works.

Each man waves the banner of being award-winning medical complexes with a broad expanse of specialties, and each renders an opinion on his center’s role in the healthcare landscape.

Jackiewicz put it this way: “We provide really good healthcare and are focused on how we can get better. … We want to be as good as we can be and raise our game. Scripps wants to be as good as us. …. If we both succeed, it’s a win-win for the community.”

Van Gorder’s take is of Scripps as a “healthcare community” that aims to deliver high quality care and “meet unmet needs.”

He added: “It’s not just a hospital, it’s a mindset.”

Building on philanthropy

Because Scripps depends so much on philanthropy for support, it must be a “high-quality provider” and must run as a good business, he added, noting that UCSD can lean on government support because it is a state institution.

Jackiewicz also sees costs and efficiencies as a critical factor in the medical center’s operations and notes that investments like those made by Irwin and Joan Jacobs are critical to its future success.

Van Gorder said that as Scripps officials considered the future — which includes a need to meet state seismic requirements that make it more practical to rebuild than retrofit —  “we’ve taken a long, 25-year view of what we will build and need, in terms of technology and making it more green.”

Coupled with limited land and California Coastal Commission regulations that limit the ability to raise the height Scripps Green Hospital on Torrey Pines Road, it “made sense to be more visionary about the replacement,” he added.

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