The facility hopes to open a new emergency medical center at site of old post office
By Barbara Burke
Special to The Malibu Times
Malibuites often complain, “Ugh, I have to go over the hill to get a CT scan or an MRI!” Locals pledge allegiance to the city’s mission statement to keep Malibu as rural as possible, but bemoan the lack of locally available and often-needed diagnostic testing services.
Doctors Dan Katz and Lauren Pike, the partners in the Malibu Urgent Care, want to change that by opening an emergency room-like care center at the old Colony Station Post Office at 23648 Pacific Coast Highway next to the urgent care.
“Our goal is to be able to provide medical services that are as close as possible to an emergency room,” Katz explained, noting that their proposed care center will provide state-of-the-art MRI and CT-scan diagnostics, but will not include paramedic or ambulance services.
“The closest emergency room to Malibu is 15 miles away in Santa Monica,” Katz said. “Getting there can take between 30 and 60 minutes depending on traffic unless a patient is airlifted from Pepperdine’s helipad.” When a patient needs help urgently, time is of the essence, he stated, adding that the town’s doctors could provide more comprehensive diagnostics and faster care if they had an available MRI and CT scan facility.
To launch the campaign, the Friends of the Urgent Care arranged “Adam Sandler Rx: Humor,” a star-filled, sold-out fundraiser event recently held at a private residence.
The event also featured Rob Schneider, David Spade, and other comedians. The highly successful function raised some of the money needed to support the effort to build an emergency facility. However, more funds are needed, Katz stated.
He noted that the lease for the old post office location has been signed with the landlord, an entity owned by Stan Kroenke. Doug Burdge and Associates is the architect, and bids from specialized healthcare space designers for the new emergency center’s interior are being evaluated.
Malibu’s physicians support having a local emergency center
Other doctors in Malibu applaud the effort to have local MRI and CT-scan services.
“I support the goal of bringing a state-of-the-art radiology imaging center to Malibu because it will provide both residents and visitors to Malibu the same quality of diagnostic imaging as they get when they have to drive to Camarillo, Santa Monica or go over the hill,” Dr. Jeff Harris said. “Having such services locally will be both quicker and more convenient for patients. I will work with Dr. Katz and others to help make this effort succeed.”
Local concierge physician Dr. Lisa Benya of Malibu Medical Group and CURE agrees.
“Malibu is in a unique situation with regard to diagnostic services because of our somewhat isolated location,” she said. “As a primary care doctor, having an emergency room offering MRI and CT-scan services would be great because it would allow our team to obtain imaging and review it quickly without our patients having to leave town, both for emergencies and routine care.”
At the fundraiser for launching the effort to build an emergency care center, Pike spoke about her working at the Urgent Care Center as a teenager. Pike noted that her mother, Dr. Jill Furgurson and her partner, Dr. David Frankle, founded the Malibu Urgent Care in 1984.
Pike announced the launch of a new children’s health initiative that will focus on providing safety lectures to younger kids who play soccer so they play safely. That effort will also provide free cardio AI brainscope scans for high school athletes who participate in contact sports. The scans will provide baseline neurological assessments that will assist physicians in screening for any concussive events. The fundraising effort includes obtaining the necessary equipment to conduct those evaluations.
When asked when the new emergency care center will open, Katz responded, “I want it to open today! However, we will have to go through the process of obtaining the necessary permits and we are hopeful that we can break ground in 2024.”
Malibu Planning Director Richard Mollica said as with all new businesses in Malibu, Katz and his team will need to obtain the necessary permits and permission from the City of Malibu before the new facility can be opened.
“The urgent care next to the Chevron is Community Commercial-zoned and health care facilities are a conditionally permitted use just like an urgent care, but, I am guessing their legal and medical matters outside of the city’s scope would apply as well,” Mollica said.