By Benny Cartwright
The Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) exists to share and discuss with our neighbors a variety of topics of interest throughout the year. Our September meeting focused on health, and gave participants the opportunity to learn more about the two major hospitals in Hillcrest, UCSD Health and Scripps Mercy.
Representatives from both hospitals were present at our Sept. 8 meeting, and shared some interesting history as well as future plans. Mark Zangrando, who also serves as the HTC’s treasurer, works for Scripps Mercy Hospital by day. He shared about Mercy’s 125th anniversary celebration, which is happening this year, making it the longest continuously operating hospital in the city. Dating all the way back to the hospital’s founding by the Sisters of Mercy, the hospital has always been committed to serving the poor and vulnerable, and pays particular care to focusing on “wrap around services,” meaning they are also concerned about what happens to a patient when they check out. Zangrando noted that the Scripps Healthcare system, which Mercy is a part of, is considered one of the top 20 in the nation.
We also heard from Brendan Kramer, chief administrative officer, at UCSD Health’s Hillcrest campus. While UCSD Health and Scripps Mercy are completely separate systems and facilities, he noted that the two hospitals collaborate when they can and are proud to be neighbors. The UCSD Hillcrest site was built in the 1960s and has 384 beds. While the UCSD Health System is opening a brand new tower at their La Jolla campus in 2016, they are still deeply committed to the Hillcrest site, investing about $20 million per year in new programs and services. UCSD Health has been actively involved in the HIV/AIDS community for decades, including the Owen Clinic, which was the first HIV clinic in the county.
Due to a state requirement to bring hospitals up to a very high seismic safety standard, the towers at both UCSD Hillcrest and Scripps Mercy must be replaced by 2030. While both hospitals have begun thinking about this, they are in the initial planning stages. Both hospitals will continue to update the community on this as planning progresses.
UCSD Health presented the HTC with a check for $2,000 at the conclusion of the meeting, which will be used to pay for upgrades to the Joyce Beers Community Center, which is home to numerous community group meetings, including HTC, Hillcrest Business Association and the San Diego Democrats for Equality. Our hope is to install permanent audio-visual equipment and other upgrades for all users of the space to utilize. If your group uses the space and would like to contribute additional funding to the upgrade project so we can make the space even better, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 13 and we’re going to be discussing a long-time hot topic in Hillcrest, parking! Past surveys taken by HTC and other groups have revealed that parking is the No. 1 issue for Hillcrest residents, and based continued feedback, we know that the issue is still very important to folks.
The Uptown Community Parking District has been asked to look into replacing parallel parking with angled parking on some streets and to also consider residential permit parking in some areas of the neighborhood. We really want to hear from you, our neighbors, on how these potential changes would affect you, how you think these changes might be best implemented (if at all), and what other ideas you have for making parking more equitable and accessible. Please join us to share your feedback!
The Tuesday, Oct. 13 meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Joyce Beers Community Center in the HUB Hillcrest. For more information, visit hillcresttowncouncil.com.
—Benny Cartwright is secretary of the Hillcrest Town Council.