The Palomar Health Board of Directors voted 5-2 Wednesday night to close the downtown Escondido hospital, which officials say is losing more than $20 million a year.
The campus, located on E. Valley Parkway, was built in 1950 to add more hospital beds to the North County.
But with the addition of the new Palomar Medical Center on Citracado Parkway, none of their hospitals are operating at capacity, Palomar Health's spokesperson said, and it would take more than $270 million over the next five years to upgrade the downtown structure.
Robroy Fawcett, an Escondido resident speaking for a coalition that wanted to save the hospital, said closing it before the end of fire season could prove catastrophic.
'We need to keep this hospital open through fire season," said Fawcett. "They have a history of other hospitals being shut down or unavailable. This hospital is the most fire safe hospital. We are in a historic drought."
A group of nurses is also protesting the potential closure, voicing their concern at public meetings earlier this week. They say if Palomar Health cuts hospital beds, patients will see longer emergency room wait times at other facilities.
One registered nurse told NBC 7 she though the decision was made suddenly and secretly, and it should have been announced earlier.
Since the Palomar Medical Center is not completed, officials say they plan to use urgent care centers to make up for the loss of a downtown emergency room.
Some who live around the downtown Escondido campus say they do not want an empty building sitting in their neighborhood.