Scripps Health in San Diego is working to build a new hospital in Tijuana, Mexico, with SIMNSA, a Mexican health insurer, to better serve the region, the two organizations announced.

Scripps is acting as a consultant on the hospital’s planning, construction and operation, and the hospital will be branded as an affiliate of Scripps.

The day-to-day management, as well as the design and construction of the hospital will be overseen by SIMNSA, formally called Sistemas Medicos Nacionales, S.A. de C.V., which already has a Tijuana medical campus that includes an eight-story outpatient tower, according to a news release.

Like its existing campus, the hospital’s targeted patient population will be Mexican residents who need to cross the border into the U.S. to work and who prefer to get their medical care in Mexico.

“We live in a binational region where thousands of people cross the border between San Diego and Tijuana daily for work. Access to high-quality health care on both sides of the border is important for our regional economy,” said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, in the release. “We have been looking for opportunities to expand the Scripps Health Network and our agreement with SIMNSA is the perfect way to do so in Mexico.” 

In an interview, Van Gorder says that Scripps has considered other international opportunities, but its leaders agreed to this one based on their positive view of SIMNSA's plan to build an American-style hospital in Mexico, as well as the level of the organization's existing care. "I was extremely impressed with the quality in their facilities," Van Gorder says. He adds that though the hospital will be American in style, the operation will remain sensitive to cultural differences that can set Mexican health care apart.

Moreover, the relationship with SIMNSA could grow, Van Gorder says. "Binational health care is something that's here to stay."

SIMNSA plans to build the hospital in phases, the first phase slated to be finished by early next year with four operating rooms, an ICU and 30 inpatient rooms. Once finished, it is planned to have 200 beds. SIMNSA’s current campus includes primary and specialty care, a full-service dental clinic, state-of-the-art stem cell therapy, an ambulatory surgical center, a medical spa, radiology services and a laboratory.

Clinics run by the health insurer are not part of the affiliation, which will be governed by a joint operating committee made up of members from both organizations.