The county of Ventura wants to replace Santa Paula Hospital, and it’s working with Limoneira and a third party to make it happen.
In a letter of intent released July 14, Limoneira announced it plans to sell 25 acres of its land in Santa Paula to a company called Pacific Coast Investments in five staged purchases. The first purchase, Lot 1, would be designated for a medical office, while the second purchase, Lot 2, would be used as a location for a new acute care public hospital.
The current Santa Paula Hospital is 60 years old and doesn’t meet the seismic requirements the state of California is set to enforce in 2030. Barry Zimmerman, the director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency, said the agency has been having meetings with area residents for years to figure out the way forward.
The hospital opened in 1961 as a private facility called Santa Paula Memorial Hospital. It closed in 2003 after years of financial struggles, and the county bought it and reopened it in 2006 as a public hospital.
The new hospital would be at the east end of Santa Paula, just off of Highway 126. That would make it more accessible to residents of Fillmore and the surrounding unincorporated areas of Ventura County than the current Santa Paula Hospital, which is on a hillside a little more than a mile north of the highway.
The property that Limoneira plans to sell for the future hospital site is adjacent to its Harvest at Limoneira residential development. Both were annexed into the city of Santa Paula in 2013.
Zimmerman said the county Health Care Agency is still designing what the new hospital would include and involve, so it doesn’t have a price tag yet, but it would be a full-service hospital.
“We still have quite a process to go through,” Zimmerman said.
The new hospital would be about the same size as the current hospital, which has 30 shared patient beds and 19 private patient rooms, as well as 145 full-time employees. As part of building the new hospital, all of the equipment would be updated.
Zimmerman said the goal is to open the new hospital before the state’s 2030 seismic requirements require the county to close the current one. Ventura County Health Care Agency is working with Limoneira and Pacific Coast Investments, and Zimmerman expects the sale to go through in early 2022.
The Ventura County Health Care Agency would also see the locations of its three Santa Paula clinics shift after the sale. Those clinics would be consolidated into the medical campus that was proposed for Lot 1.
“We are extremely grateful for Limoneira’s long-standing commitment to the health and prosperity of the local community,” Mike Powers, Ventura County Executive Officer, said in a Limoneira news release. “This is a major step in building a state-of-the-art acute care hospital and health campus that will provide excellence in care for community members in Santa Paula, Fillmore, the Santa Clara Valley and the county for many generations.”
The other three lots in the sale could be used for complementary purposes. Zimmerman said the county isn’t working with Limoneira and Pacific Coast Investments on the direction of those lots, but that there have been ideas like senior housing or a skilled nursing care facility proposed for that land.