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UC San Diego Health to Manage Emergency Services at El Centro Regional Medical Center

Partnership will improve wait times and provide higher quality of care to Imperial Valley patients


  • Michelle Brubaker

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  • Michelle Brubaker

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From comprehensive stroke care when every second counts to stitching deep cuts and evaluating flu symptoms, UC San Diego Health provides the highest quality of care when patients arrive through the emergency room doors. Now, as part of a long term partnership between UC San Diego Health and El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC), patients in the Imperial Valley will receive the same specialty emergency care.   

A select group of UC San Diego Health emergency staff will manage services in the ECRMC Emergency Department, improving the capabilities, efficiency and quality of care provided to the nearly 50,000 patients treated there yearly.

“Partnering with UC San Diego Health, the region’s top-ranked health system, will give us the opportunity to implement strategies that will improve wait times and best practices in our emergency room,” said Tomas Virgen, interim CEO, ECRMC. “Utilizing the talent of UC San Diego Health physicians will result in a more comprehensive approach, faster diagnoses and more treatment options for our patients, as well as strengthen the ties within the entire community we serve.”  

“This collaboration will allow El Centro to become part of our mission to deliver outstanding patient care through commitment to the community, groundbreaking research and inspired teaching,” said Patty Maysent, interim CEO, UC San Diego Health. “Not only will the partnership provide superior health outcomes to patients in the Imperial Valley, it will give clinical team members at ECRMC access to joint projects and educational opportunities that are cross beneficial, elevating the standard of physicians in the field of emergency medicine.”

Some of the strategies UC San Diego Health staff are looking to implement in the ECRMC emergency room include a faster approach to treat cardiac arrests, a more efficient way to read electrocardiograms (EKGs) and a more streamlined triage process where a nurse takes vitals in the waiting room during peak hours so patients can be seen sooner. UC San Diego Health is also in the process of researching ways to improve the process of transferring ECRMC patients in need of a higher level of care.

UC San Diego Health is a designated comprehensive stroke center, which will allow physicians to work with the ECRMC team to treat the most complex cases using an existing telemedicine program. The program will bring instant expertise to this patient population without geographic limitations or boundaries.

The partnership will also serve as an exchange program of sorts. During the partnership, select ECRMC emergency staff will be embedded in the UC San Diego Health Emergency Department to learn new treatment options with state-of-the-art devices and to provide a seamless continuum of care for patients in San Diego County.  

“UC San Diego Health is honored to be part of the effort to improve the delivery of patient care by consulting ECRMC personnel and participating in teaching opportunities,” said Ted Chan, MD, chair of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego Health. “Sharing successful methods from UC San Diego Health to enhance the quality of care and patient experience in El Centro is another step to ensuring a higher standard of emergency services nationwide.”

Other services provided by UC San Diego Health staff will be advising in the development of departmental operations, assisting in the design of patient record entities and overseeing rapid response teams during disasters.

UC San Diego Health is the region’s only academic health system and is dedicated to delivering outstanding patient care through commitment to the community, groundbreaking research and inspired teaching. It ranked #1 in San Diego for the fifth consecutive year in 2015 in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals” issue. UC San Diego Health is composed of UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and Thornton Hospital, Moores Cancer Center, Shiley Eye Institute, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center and Jacobs Medical Center (opening 2016), all in La Jolla, as well as other primary and specialty practices located throughout Southern California. For more information, visit

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