San Diego Hospice to close

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Hospice will close in the next two or three months and transfer its operations and some employees to Scripps Health, the organization announced Wednesday.

The plan was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by lawyers for the hospice, which has been beset by a federal Medicare investigation.

San Diego HospiceScripps Health was the largest referrer of clients to the hospice, but last week announced it would take on hospice care itself. Kathleen Pacurar, CEO of San Diego Hospice, said she encouraged Scripps to make the move when it became unclear whether her organization would be able to continue to meet the needs of patients.

“This is obviously a difficult decision for all of us associated with San Diego Hospice,” Pacurar said. “The plan we have put forward will allow us to take immediate steps to stop incurring debt, which increases every day we remain in operation.”

Pacurar said the decision is the result of months of discussions of how to resolve its financial difficulties. The hospice has cut back on employees and patients recently.

“Our decision to file bankruptcy was based on our need to maintain continuity of patient care as we worked through the details of this plan,” Pacurar said. “We believe this is the best course for our patients and their families, and for San Diego Hospice.”

She said Scripps Health has offered to purchase the hospice’s building, a familiar landmark overlooking Mission Valley, and the proceeds would be used to wind down its operations. Scripps would also take on some hospice employees, purchase its medical license and buy its computer equipment, if the plan is approved.

“San Diego Hospice has provided an important service to this community for many years and we are saddened that they are no longer able to continue their mission,” said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health. “In our talks with San Diego Hospice, we both agreed that we did not want to see patients fall through the cracks during this process, and we wanted to help as many hospice employees as we could.”

If the court accepts the proposals, the health care provider and hospice will agree to details of the transition within the following month, according to Scripps.