HLM: Are you committed to keeping some sort of inpatient acute-care hospital in El Centro?
CVG: Absolutely. That hospital is 120 miles away from Scripps and that community absolutely has to have an inpatient capability. I would have no interest in shutting down the inpatient capacity out there.
HLM: Are you going into these negotiations looking for an outright acquisition?
CVG: El Centro is looking for an outright acquisition. That is what we will be approaching it as. It's a city-owned hospital. The city recognizes that running healthcare facilities of the future requires an enormous amount of expertise that elected city council members might not have necessarily. Certainly it needs a very large organization these days to meet the broad range of community needs. They are looking for an acquisition so we would look for the very same thing, not just a loose affiliation.
HLM: Does the fact that ECRMC is city-owned complicate things?
CVG: I don't think it matters. City-owned hospitals were not unusual a few decades ago, but it is my understanding that El Centro is the last city-owned hospital in California, or there may be two of them, and El Centro is the largest in the state. They recognize that it is no longer the kind of business that a municipality ought to be running.