Palomar Health Downtown Campus Standby Emergency Department Closure FAQs


  • When will the Standby Emergency Room at the Palomar Health Downtown Campus close?
    The Standby Emergency Room at Palomar Health Downtown Campus closed Monday, March 14, 2016.
  • Where will patients receive emergency care when the Standby Emergency Room closes?
    In case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1
    . For all other non-emergency needs, there are several options in the community: 1) going to the Escondido Expresscare location in the Albertsons on East Valley Parkway which is open from 9a-8:30p Mon-Fri, 9a-4:30p Saturday and 10a-5:30p on Sunday; 2) calling your doctor’s office who always has a 24/7 emergency line or visiting their affiliated urgent care center; 3) visiting a local health center – some have extended hours for treatment as a result of the Standby Emergency Room closure. Many of these health centers are located within a mile of the Downtown Campus. 
    Please visit for a list of these health centers and other places to receive treatment. You can also find more information here about the right place to go for care if you are sick or hurt.
  • What if I need emergency treatment in the middle of the night?
    In case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1. The emergency rooms at Palomar Medical Center Escondido and Palomar Medical Center Poway will remain open 24/7. Many of our patients that visit the standby ER are not in need of emergency treatment and could access other places for care – many that are faster and more convenient. By working with the local health centers and educating the community about other options, it is our hope that our patients will now seek treatment at an urgent care associated with their medical group or local health centers that are ready and able to provide excellent and convenient treatment, may times with a shorter wait.
  • For Medi-Cal patients, there are several local health that are also able to offer patients access to a medical home for the best possible treatment in the future.
  • What if someone walks or drives to the Standby Emergency Room who needs immediate emergency treatment?
    In case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1, or get to the nearest emergency room. The nearest emergency room is located at Palomar Medical Center Escondido just three miles away. If someone arrives at the Downtown Campus who needs emergency treatment, 9-1-1 will be called and they will be transported to Palomar Medical Center Escondido.
  • Where do I go if I’m having a baby?
    The Birth Center has moved to Palomar Medical Center Escondido, effective December 1, 2016. If you are expecting a baby and would like a tour of the Birth Center, please call 800.628.2880.
  • Are you required to have an emergency department to keep other clinical services open at the Downtown Campus?
    No, Palomar Health is not required to provide an emergency department at Palomar Health Downtown Campus in order to license and safely operate the hospital.
  • What if a patient at the Downtown Campus has an emergency in the hospital after March 14?
    Per standard hospital practice, a physician-led rapid response team will continue to be available 24/7 within the hospital to provide emergency response to any patient in the hospital, when necessary. To make sure we continue to provide safe patient care, this team will stay in the Downtown Campus until the very last patient leaves the hospital and the building closes.
  • How have patients and the community been informed?
    A communications team consisting of representatives from Palomar Health, community health centers and respective medical staffs was formed. This team developed a robust communication plan to inform patients and the community about the closure, future service locations and alternatives, as well as facilitate current patients’ transition to finding a medical home for ongoing treatment. This included signage, letters, print media, social media and press releases.
  • What is happening to the other services in the Downtown Campus?
    The Birth Center, Acute Rehabilitation and Behavioral Health units remain open at the Downtown Campus and continue to provide safe patient care while we work with regulatory agencies for approvals and permits for relocation. Other support services such Pharmacy, Lab and Imaging will also remain at the Downtown Campus to support these units.
  • Why did you close the Standby Emergency Room?
    Although we are not required to provide walk-in emergency services at the Downtown Campus to keep the rest of the hospital open, Palomar Health decided to continue to provide these services to the community since the opening of Palomar Medical Center in August 2012. This closure is now a positive milestone as we make progress towards the final closure of the Downtown Campus. The closure is expected to result in a $20 million savings that can be reinvested in other patient care areas at Palomar Medical Center and Pomerado Hospital.
  • Why are you closing the Downtown Campus?
    This decision supports our mission and aligns with our responsibility to proactively prepare for the changing landscape of the health care industry, including adjusting to new legislation, increasing costs and declining reimbursement rates. In order to prepare for the future and continue to provide the highest-quality health care to the communities we serve, we need to transition the services to Palomar Medical Center Escondido and Palomar Medical Center Poway. Neither of the campuses are consistently operating at ideal capacity and consolidating services will help us better use these facilities.
    Additionally, this will allow for efficiencies and cost savings (estimated at $20 million annually) to better meet the long-term health care needs of the community. This will ensure the right resources are in the right place at the right time to provide for continued high quality patient care consistent with our focus of “patient first.” 
    In the next five years the Downtown Campus facility would need $172 million to update the aging infrastructure and IT systems. This does not include any “cosmetic” changes (i.e., new flooring, paint, and signage). Palomar Health does not have the funds to make these changes while continuing to lose $20 million each year at this campus.
  • Will this cause longer waits at other emergency rooms? It is our intent to educate the community about the right place to go for care at the right time, many places they may not know exist today, to help eliminate additional traffic to local emergency rooms. It’s also important to note that ambulances stopped taking patients to the Downtown Campus three years ago, so there will not be an increase in ambulances being redirected to other ERs.
    At Palomar Medical Center Escondido, we are working on ways to better utilize the existing spaces in and adjacent to the Emergency Department to increase patient satisfaction and decrease wait times. The closure of the Downtown Campus would allow for additional money to cover the costs of future ER expansions when necessary.
  • Where can I go for urgent care in the area?
    The following health centers are located within one mile of the Downtown Campus and offer extended and/or accept Medi-Cal: Neighborhood Healthcare –  
    Graybill Medical Group –
    Escondido Family Medicine | Mountain Health –
    Borrego Health | Centro Medico Escondido –
    Expresscare –
    Kaiser Permanente (for members only)
    Please visit for a full list of local health centers and services they provide.
  • Why didn't the Palomar Health Downtown Campuses close as soon as Palomar Medical Center Escondido opened?
    When these decisions were made 10 years ago, health care was quite different and the decisions were appropriate for that time and for the foreseeable future. Over the past decade, there have been significant changes in health care resulting in declining reimbursements to hospitals. This has required all health care providers to think much differently about health care delivery to the communities we serve. Even as our environment changes, we will not compromise on our promise of high quality, safe patient care to our community.
  • How will people who do not have access to transportation access Palomar Medical Center Escondido?
    Palomar Medical Center Escondido is located roughly 3 miles from the Downtown Campus. We understand community members have different needs when it comes to transportation and there are community resources available. Breeze Route 353 will continue to run between downtown Escondido and Nordahl Marketplace, with stops at Palomar Medical Center Escondido and Palomar Health Downtown Campus.
    For transportation assistance, call 2-1-1, visit or contact FACT by going to or calling 888.924.3228.