Last-minute overtures by Sharp HealthCare and Adventist Health combined for the latest derailment in the on-again, off-again courtship of Palomar Pomerado Health System by ScrippsHealth.
Palomar Pomerado spokesman David Owen said a vote by its board to affiliate with ScrippsHealth, originally scheduled for Aug. 3, has been shelved indefinitely.
San Diego-based Sharp tendered a nine-page affiliation proposal on July 3. It cited repeated delays in the affiliation vote with ScrippsHealth as its impetus. Roseville, Calif.-based Adventist Health contacted Palomar Pomerado's board three weeks later to begin a dialogue on a potential deal, Owen said.
"The Sharp offer had enough to get our board's attention, and the community's response (during a series of public meetings last month to discuss the ScrippsHealth proposal) was to slow this whole process down," Owen said. He added that Adventist has not made a specific proposal, but discussions would be held.
Sharp would have Palomar Pomerado make a $20 million upfront payment to be put into a new company to manage the system's two hospitals in Poway and Escondido, north of San Diego. ScrippsHealth would have Palomar Pomerado make payments of about $110 million over 30 years in lieu of operating the facilities.
Sharp officials have said its proposal would save Palomar Pomerado about $40 million over the life of the 30-year agreement and allow it more autonomy in the day-to-day operations of the hospitals. Under the Sharp proposal, Palomar Pomerado would hold five of 12 seats on a board that would control the hospitals. The system would hold four of 16 seats in the ScrippsHealth offer.
Palomar Pomerado and ScrippsHealth officials have been in negotiations since 1996 and signed a letter of intent last year. However, various proposals have been upended as the composition of the former's publicly elected board has changed, Owen said.
Although ScrippsHealth officials had been pressing for an early August decision by Palomar Pomerado's board in order to guarantee putting the proposal on the November ballot for a public vote-and to avoid more turnover on the seven-member board-they have since backed off.
"We understand their situation and that they remain committed as stewards of the public's resources," said ScrippsHealth spokeswoman Robin Liszewski.