City OKs $2M donation to Henry Mayo 

FILE PHOTO The newly constructed Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Patient Tower. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Pitching in for a capital campaign started by the city’s only hospital, Santa Clarita City Council members approved a request for $2 million from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital at their recent meeting.  

The hospital, which was built in 1975, is looking to update its surgical suites, which were constructed in 1980, for its build-out of the brand-new patient tower, as well as a few other upgrades.  

“Philanthropy is absolutely critical for us to expand programs, undertake capital improvements, to buy new equipment,” Lauffer said at the Feb. 14 meeting, noting Henry Mayo is an independent, not-for-profit hospital with local leadership that determines its spending and priorities. “And we fundraise on a regular basis.” 

The motion, which passed unanimously, calls for the gift to be spread out over three and a half years, with a memorandum of understanding that spells out how the city’s contribution will be spent. 

The goal of the current campaign is $25 million, according to a letter sent from the hospital to the city. In addition to four state-of-the-art surgical suites, the funding would also cover a significant expansion of the hospital’s pre- and post-acute recovery unit, or PACU, a nurses’ station, staff lounges and a waiting room. 

The hospital has raised approximately $13 million of that goal, Lauffer said, which includes nearly $5 million raised from staff and executive leadership.  

“We’ve helped the hospital before,” Councilwoman Laurene Weste said, “and I think there’s a lot of ways you have to word this … so that it works for the city, and so if we give them $2 million over so many years, I think it’s worth it to every single person’s health, and less anxiety, to have the resources, the best possible care you can get, right here.” 

Prior to the council’s approval of the request, commenters mentioned the city also could use a hospital on the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley, instead of a donation to expand the existing hospital on the west side. 

Weste noted that the hospital currently serves about 400 square miles, and a new hospital could take decades to build due to the state’s byzantine regulatory process. 

“We would not be opposed to another hospital coming to the Santa Clarita Valley,” Lauffer said at the meeting. “Competition is good, and certainly not everybody in (the Santa Clarita Valley) is served by Henry Mayo.” 

However, a new hospital would be an extremely expensive and “difficult” undertaking, she said, with one current industry estimate putting the per-bed cost of a new facility in the neighborhood of the hospital’s current ask from the city, approximately $2 million. 

To put that in perspective, that would put the cost of an east side facility the size of Henry Mayo’s 357-bed facility in the neighborhood of $714 million. 

No recent plans for such a facility have been presented or brought to City Council as of this week, according to Carrie Lujan, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita. 

An Aug. 8, 2022, fact sheet from the hospital demonstrated how widely used Henry Mayo’s facilities are. 

In 2021, the hospital accommodated 12,813 inpatient stays and more than 114,572 outpatient visits, an average of more than 313 per day. There were 1,424 babies delivered, and more than 57,500 emergency room patients, according to hospital data.  

Lauffer said she was not aware of any plans to sell the hospital, when asked by Councilwoman Marsha McLean, who was addressing a rumor brought up during the public comment at the meeting. 

Lauffer also stated the hospital was aware it needed to expand its emergency services, as the hospital is often at capacity in that department, “particularly post-COVID,” noting that many who had delayed health care during the pandemic are now seeking help. 

While an emergency-room-only facility would help alleviate that pressure, such a facility is currently illegal under state law, she added.  

The first phase of the hospital’s $170 million patient tower, which added 119 beds to its Valencia campus, opened in October 2019. 

Previously, the city has donated to help Henry Mayo’s trauma center and its emergency services, according to hospital officials.   

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