INDUSTRY – The letter from Steve Blackwell, director of the El Encanto Healthcare & Habilitation Center, was short and direct. “Based upon our current cash balances and projections, we will need a cash supplement to our patient collections of $400,000,” he wrote to the Industry City Council. With no discussion, the council last week unanimously approved a $400,000 loan to El Encanto. It was business as usual for the city, which for years has been helping pay millions in bills for the 244-bed facility caring for the elderly and about 80 children in need of constant medical supervision. “It’s not uncommon for us to subsidize them for anywhere between $800,000 and $1.2 million a year,” said Victoria Gallo, the city’s chief financial officer. Technically, Industry lends the money to the hospital at 6 percent interest, Gallo said. But the council does not often ask to be repaid because the city owns the hospital. The day-to-day operations are contracted to an outside health care company, she said. The city’s staff could not immediately provide figures for how much the city has lent the hospital over the years, or the outstanding balance. Industry’s annual revenue is $44 million, according to City Manager Phil Iriarte. Blackwell, of El Encanto, referred all financial questions to the city. Mayor Dave Perez said Industry bought El Encanto in the 1970s. It was in dire financial straits, and city officials hoped to turn it around, he said. But in the 2002-03 fiscal year the hospital operated at a $2.39 million deficit, according to the California Office of Statewide Health, Planning and Development. The facility is south of Valley Boulevard just west of Hacienda Boulevard at 555 El Encanto Road – one of the lowest-income areas in the San Gabriel Valley, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. “The type of clients available to us do not have a lot of disposable income,” Perez said. “And people from more wealthy neighborhoods, like San Marino, they like to keep their family members near their homes. So they won’t bring them down here.” Most of the patients in the hospital rely on government assistance, according to data compiled by the California Healthcare Foundation. The hospital got mostly high service marks from the California Healthcare Foundation, which said El Encanto spends more on patient care than other similar care centers. El Encanto has played an integral role in the city’s history since it was founded in the 1930s, Perez said. When Industry’s organizers filed for incorporation in 1956 they needed at least 500 people to live within the proposed new city. They had 600 – counting the 30 staff members and 170 patients at El Encanto, which was a mental hospital at the time, a history on the city’s Web site says. Perez said the hospital could probably make more money if it did not care for disabled children, but city officials were not willing to evict them. Instead, the city might stop taking young patients and gradually admit only the elderly, Perez said. City officials also are considering contracting with nearby space-starved hospitals to admit patients. “If we shut (El Encanto) down or stopped caring for those kids, it would create a burden on families who have been through a lot, and it would create a burden on the entire healthcare system for the area,” Perez said. “So we’re just sticking in there.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2703 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!