San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare is taking aggressive steps to expand its hospital operations across the California-Mexico border.
The move is another example of how some American providers are seeking revenue from foreign markets as the domestic healthcare scene becomes in-creasingly dominated by capitation and managed care.
A new hospital in the resort community of Mazatlan, which will carry the Sharp name as part of an affiliation contract with Mexican investors, is set to open in November or December. The hospital, which will open with 74 beds, will be able to accommodate as many as 120 beds.
Under the agreement, Sharp will be paid to oversee the hospital's operations and participate in quality improvements. Patients requiring highly specialized procedures such as open-heart surgery would be referred to Sharp hospitals in San Diego.
Sharp operates five hospitals and a variety of healthcare subsidiaries in the San Diego area.
In another arrangement, 42-bed Hos-pital Notre Dame in Tijuana and Sharp have signed a preliminary agreement to affiliate. The deal will provide increased access to specialty care at Sharp hospitals for residents of Tijuana. It also will provide special educational programs for Hospital Notre Dame physicians.
"The affiliation with Hospital Notre Dame continues Sharp's...objective of building an integrated healthcare network in the San Diego-Tijuana community," said Russell A. Bennett, Sharp's director for Mexico and Latin America.
In a move with broader potential, Sharp has signed an agreement of cooperation with the Institute of Social Security and Services, the Mexican national health service for government employees and their dependents, which covers 8.6 million citizens.
Under the agreement, besides educational programs for Mexican physicians, Sharp is developing programs to help refurbish hospitals and other facilities in the national health service's vast network. It includes 12 regional hospitals, 200 general hospitals and 1,200 clinics.
Terms of Sharp's Mexican agreements weren't disclosed.
"As more of our population base becomes capitated, U.S. hospitals are seeking alternative sources of revenue," and those located strategically near Mexico are reaching out to that country, said Gary Edmiston, Sharp's director of international services.
"We're fortunately located in San Diego, the largest border community with Mexico." The million residents of Tijuana are virtually an extended community with San Diego, he said.
Although Sharp's activities in Mexico predate the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, "more and more institutions are interested in doing business in Mexico, and it's becoming easier" since NAFTA was ratified, Mr. Edmiston said.