Valley Health’s Chosen Suitor has History of Failure in Perris Hospital

The man behind the impending sale of all the hospitals within Valley Health System said he lost about $300,000 involving the now-shuttered Perris Community Hospital, but insists that experience should not be held against him as he pursues Riverside County’s largest hospital district.

If anything, Matthew Cutler, president and CEO of Select HealthCare Solutions of Del Mar, said, he picked up slack from the failed Perris hospital that he plans to put to use as he goes about acquiring Valley Health’s hospitals, which include Hemet Valley Medical Center, Menifee Valley Medical Center and Moreno Valley Community Hospital.

“It should affect it because it etched on my mind what to do with a medical development project,” said Cutler, who described himself as a manager in the failed Perris hospital.

Board members said they have found nothing to make them question Cutler’s trustworthiness.

Chairman Patrick Searl said the hospital district did a background check on Cutler as part of their due diligence. He added that district officials are aware of his involvement in the failed Perris hospital.

“He’s an manager like everyone else, and he lost money like everyone else,” Searl said. “My hopes for the future of Valley Health System rest with the Select deal.”

Darren Magness, one of the district board’s directors, said he still believes in Cutler. He said directors spoke with Cutler’s financial backers and are convinced that they could follow through with financing for Valley Health’s assets.

But others say Cutler needs to be more forthcoming with his role in the Perris hospital.

“He’s intimately involved with a failed hospital in Perris,” said Dr. Neal Simpson, who said some local doctors lost money on that venture.

He said there has been no discussion with doctors about Cutler’s involvement with the Perris hospital. Simpson added that the medical staff did not get a chance to talk to Cutler before the board chose Select HealthCare Solutions.

Select HealthCare Solutions bested three other suitors — including Kaiser Permanente — that wanted to acquire all or parts of Valley Health’s assets. Since agreeing to sell to the company, Valley Health officials have been working on an agreement that would address terms of the sale.

Voters within the district, which stretches from San Jacinto to Menifee, Idyllwild and Sun City, would have to vote to approve the sale agreement before it could be finalized.

Perris Community Hospital, also known as Valley Plaza Doctor’s Hospital, was closed in 2005 after years of financial struggle.

Built in the 1970s, the Perris hospital had endured bankruptcies, several previous closings, at least eight owners and repeated name changes.

Cutler said he invested in the hospital at the behest of another investors’ group with which he has worked in the past, but that investment ultimately failed, he said.

“If people are telling you that I’m responsible for the Perris hospital, that’s correct,” he said.

Officials of Southwest Hospital Development Group, which owned the Perris hospital at the time of its closure, were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Cutler said several physicians each lost between $50,000 and $150,000 on the failed Perris venture. Local physicians who reportedly lost money could not be reached for comment this week.

“We’re not interested in Valley Health System because of the physician but because of the facilites,” he said.

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