by Rick Griffin
The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD), the public agency that serves as landlord of Grossmont Hospital, has announced it is continuing negotiations with Sharp HealthCare to add another 30 years to its existing lease agreement for the operation of the La Mesa hospital. The GHD board recently voted to finalize discussions with Sharp officials to extend the current 30-year lease, which was signed in 1991 and is scheduled to expire on May 30, 2021. The parties are discussing extending the lease to May 29, 2051.
At a recent GHD meeting, the board voted 4-1, with board member Betty Stieringer in opposition, to direct staff to prepare a letter of intent that would include basic terms for a 30-year lease extension with the Grossmont Hospital Corp., the legal entity associated with Sharp HealthCare that manages and operates the 536-bed hospital. The letter of intent, representing one of several steps required for a lease extension, is expected to be considered by the GHD board in early 2014. If the GHD board approves the letter of intent, planning would be finalized for a future ballot measure on the lease extension. Ultimately, East Region voters will have the final approval of any lease extension. In 2005, California lawmakers passed AB 1155 authored by former Assemblyman Jay La Suer of La Mesa, allowing a lease extension of the publicly-owned hospital to Sharp HealthCare, following voter approval. Previously, state law was silent on how healthcare districts could extend their leases with hospital operators.
“The letter of intent was an important step for the board to ensure the provisions for a possible lease extension are progressing in the right direction,” said Barry Jantz, GHD CEO. “We look forward to the public process and community input as the board considers placing a lease extension measure on the ballot to continue our public-private partnership with Sharp HealthCare.”