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Cross-Border Health: Megaregion Medicine

San Diego is on the cusp of enjoying binational health care


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A new dawn is on the horizon for binational health care in the San Diego–Tijuana region, thanks to a hospital that’s soon to open literally steps south of the border.

A joint venture between Scripps Health and Mexican HMO Sistemas Medicos Nacionales S.A. de C.V. (SIMNSA), the new facility is slated to open in 2017 near the San Ysidro port of entry, the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere, where approximately 45 million people pass between the U.S. and Mexico annually.

The goal is to improve access to heath care in both nations for the tens of thousands of daily cross-border commuters, as well as the growing number of Southern Californians who seek health care alternatives on the south side of the border. SIMNSA, which bills itself as one of the leading HMO programs in northern Mexico and the first Mexican HMO to be licensed as a health care provider service plan by the state of California, currently operates clinics in Tijuana, Tecate, and Mexicali, as well as an eight-story outpatient facility near the site of the new hospital in Tijuana.

The hospital—SIMNSA’s first—hopes to land an international seal of approval from The Joint Commission, a certification currently held by only four facilities in Mexico compared to 77 percent of U.S. hospitals. The SIMNSA facility would be the first in Tijuana to obtain such accreditation, which is part of why it invited Scripps to offer support in planning, construction, and operation.

SIMNSA, which offers health insurance plans to employees of American companies in San Diego and Imperial counties as well as memberships to the general public, plans to open the hospital in phases, the first of which is expected to include four operating rooms, an ICU, 30 inpatient rooms and, upon completion, 200 beds.

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