Ventura County, Calif., voters, through a ballot referendum, last week rejected plans for construction of a $51 million outpatient wing at Ventura County Medical Center.The measure was sponsored by a group financed by not-for-profit Community Memorial Hospital, located just a block away from the county medical center in the city of Ventura.The county was planning to finance the construction by issuing "certificates of participation," which are bond-like financial instruments often used by municipalities. Opponents forced a citizen vote on the use of the funding mechanism on the March 26 primary ballot, hoping for voters to di sapprove. They succeeded, as voters defeated the measure by a vote of 78,886 to 47,142, or 63% to 37%.Community Memorial and the group it financed, Taxpayers for Quality Health Care, argued that the county does not need new outpati ent facilities (Feb. 26, p. 12). Opponents said the county hospital was simply trying to grow by competing with the private sector.County officials contend that construction of the wing is the most cost-efficient way to serve the g rowing number of indigent residents. The county is now leasing space around the hospital for outpatient specialty services.Last week's vote bars the county from issuing the certificates of participation, said Madge Schaefer, a form er county supervisor who headed a group supporting the construction. But it is unclear what the county will do now.The vote does not seem to have resolved the struggle.Pierre Durand, administrator of the county hospital, said hospi tal executives intend to find a way to proceed with the construction because several hospital areas including the kitchen need to be replaced. "We have a very large uninsured population that needs to be served," and the county it self intends to continue to provide those services, he said."We're going to review several options available to us and discuss them with the county board of supervisors," he added.
NEWS AT DEADLINE;CALIF. COUNTY VOTERS BLOCK CONSTRUCTION OF HOSPITAL ADDITION
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