ESCONDIDO — North County’s largest community clinic will soon begin referring its expectant mothers to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, instead of Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, which the clinic had been sending deliveries to for years.
Vista Community Clinic, which has been operating since 1972, said in a statement that it will send all baby deliveries to Palomar hospital starting Oct. 16.
This decision will impact Tri-City’s overall number of labor and delivery patients. According to Tri-City data, the clinic has averaged 51 deliveries per month so far this year, a projected annual rate amounting to roughly 40% of Tri-City’s total live births.
VCC’s chief development officer, Betsy Heightman, told The Coast News via email that Palomar Medical Center’s upgraded facilities were a factor in the decision.
“This transfer, approved by the VCC Board of Directors, brings more advanced resources to both patients and staff, who will benefit from the personalized attention, exceptional care and more recently upgraded and expanded Palomar facility,” Heightman said.
Aaron Byzak, a spokesperson at Tri-City, submitted the following statement to The Coast News in response to the clinic’s recent decision:
“Tri-City Medical Center has been welcoming new babies into this world for over 60 years and is proud to be the top choice for labor and delivery for thousands of community members. Our medical center has consistently been recognized by Newsweek as one of the Best Maternity Hospitals in the country and offers state-of-the-art care in our Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) — a resource for the most fragile babies born in our community.
“We were recently notified that Vista Community Clinic will no longer participate in our 24/7 community physician call coverage and delivery services. Tri-City Medical Center is working with our community physician partners to build upon the comprehensive and quality-driven maternal and child services that we’ve provided for our community members for over six decades.”
More than 23,000 babies were born at Tri-City Medical Center in the last 10 years, according to the hospital.
Palomar Medical Center recently sold its medical complex in downtown Escondido and moved its facilities to the newly constructed Palomar Medical Center tower that opened in 2012 on Citracado Parkway.
Each year, approximately 6,000 babies in San Diego County are born at Palomar Health’s two birthing centers in Escondido and Poway — a number that is now expected to increase.
The clinic’s change may also require longer trips for expectant mothers giving birth, as they would need to drive 13 miles east to Palomar or nearly 15 miles south to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas.
The birth centers at Palomar’s two locations were recognized by Blue Shield of California with a Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) for Maternity Care designation for providing high-quality maternity care.
As of Wednesday, the Tri-City board of directors has not decided whether or not this matter will be formally discussed at its next board meeting.