Headlines on the Horizon

For 125 years, Community Health System has been investing in this region — growing a successful healthcare system that supports our community and serves hundreds of thousands of Valley residents.
I hope you share my pride in the contributions and impact our health system has made to this community, including:

  • Community’s outstanding response supporting public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, made possible by a highly dedicated, coordinated workforce and by smart investments in our Fresno and Clovis facilities. As a system, we served more COVID-positive patients than all hospitals in San Francisco County combined, impressing both federal and statewide agencies with how we responded to the crisis.
  • Honoring our agreement with the City and County of Fresno, made decades ago, where we committed to build a $45 million critical-care facility downtown. But we delivered so much more, including a $200 million Trauma and Critical Care Building that’s among California’s best — and part of $500 million in investments to expand and renovate our Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) campus. 
  • Growing Community Medical Centers, now 1,273 inpatient beds strong, by adding 285 much-needed beds at CRMC and another 288 beds to our Clovis Community Medical Center campus in response to population growth and the growing demand for hospital services in our region overall.
  • Our role as the region’s biggest economic engine, now employing 9,000 healthcare professionals and creating thousands of construction jobs tied to our facility upgrades and expansion. We are honored to be recognized by Forbes as one of the state’s top healthcare systems to work in.
  • A longstanding commitment to training doctors and nurses. True to our commitment to address our region’s healthcare workforce shortage, we have 1,200 future clinicians — from residents, fellows and physician assistants, to nurses, technicians and others — all training in Community’s health system.
  • Our work to create leading institutes and centers for trauma, burn, cancer, neurosciences, stroke, heart-and-lung care, bariatric and metabolic surgery, and neonatal intensive care — to name only a few of our advanced services. These investments are saving lives.
  • More than $230 million in Community Benefit investments that make it possible to provide uncompensated care and other assistance and support for our region’s most vulnerable residents.

These contributions are the result of our long-standing fiscal responsibility, and prudent financial investments in outstanding facilities that serve both Fresno, Clovis and the wider region. Our management team works closely with a volunteer board of local business and medical leaders, who devote their considerable expertise and personal time to assuring that we meet our obligations as a non-profit healthcare provider. 
I could not be more grateful for our employees, physicians, donors, contractors and trustees, or more proud of the exceptional care we provide in the outstanding healthcare infrastructure we’ve built. There’s more to come, as we bring additional services online, strengthen our physician network and continue to invest in what I believe is the best team in the Valley!
We will stand firm in our long-running commitment to do right by the people of Central California.
Craig S. Castro
President & CEO
Community Health System

The Central San Joaquin Valley’s population is projected to grow 15% in the next 15 years and we anticipate our facilities will be busier than ever. At the Clovis hospital alone, the number of patients admitted to the hospital has risen 67% and ER visits have increased by 90% in the past decade. 
That’s made new construction at the 42-acre Clovis Community campus a priority, with new medical offices, additional parking for patients and expanded service areas.
In May 2022, the first patients were moved to Clovis Community’s new five-story bed tower, as part of a $430 million four-year, phased expansion to increase total hospital capacity by 41% to 352 all-private rooms. 
When completed by the end of 2022, the Clovis Community expansion will add 15,000 additional square-feet of emergency department space, six more operating rooms, enhanced radiology and lab services, and expanded seating and food options for patients and visitors. It will also include a new Heart & Lung Institute.
“The Clovis Community expansion is part of a decade-long strategy to meet the Valley’s growing need for different kinds of inpatient and outpatient care settings — all of which must work together seamlessly,” said Craig Wagoner, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Community Health System.

Growth is happening in downtown Fresno too

As our 685-bed flagship hospital, Community Regional in downtown Fresno is the state leader in Medi-Cal discharges and ER visits. It’s also home to the only Level I Trauma Center and comprehensive burn center between Sacramento and Los Angeles, and serves as the area’s “safety net” provider. This means we care for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2021 alone, we provided $231 million in uncompensated services and programs.
With a donation made in 2022, we’re upgrading nine pediatric patient rooms, creating a new nutrition space and upgrading a playroom to give our pediatric patients a more comfortable, kid-friendly environment.

The donation will also help us secure a second CT machine for the emergency department (and build the necessary space to house it). On average, 75% of the patients who need a CT come from the emergency department. This new machine addresses a critical need, increasing access to a vital diagnostic tool that will help us provide better service to our patients.

Expanding to offer care beyond our walls

Of course, not all patient care happens at our hospitals. We have affiliated practices and urgent care centers throughout the region and a mobile app, MyHealthMate, where patients can access their health information and navigate our online health system and services. This includes telehealth options, which have quickly become one of the regular ways Community’s affiliated physicians care for patients.
“People are actually, truly able to give good care over a computer or an iPad,” said Dr. Thomas Utecht, Community’s chief medical officer. He added that quality of care always depends on the doctor, the patient’s ability to describe issues and the device they’re connecting over. “But if you’re a person that’s not very mobile, or elderly, or have other health problems, being at home is probably safer than having to get on a bus or getting a taxi and coming to the doctor.”
Dr. Jeffrey Thomas, V.P. of medical and quality for Community Regional Medical Center, predicted, “Access to care through telemedicine is going to leave a lasting effect.” 

We’ll be caring for this community — now and in the future

As the leading healthcare provider in the Central San Joaquin Valley, Community cares for more people in the region than any other. Plans are already in the works to help us continue to meet the healthcare needs of this diverse and fast-growing region.
Craig Castro, president and CEO, Community Health System, praised the progress that has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: “Despite tremendous, ongoing challenges, our team never lost sight of our mission to deliver efficient, high-quality care, achieve clinical quality milestones, and grow and strengthen our health system.”

A bill that will drastically overhaul the method of voting to unionize farmworkers is now law in California.

A year after the United Farm Workers suffered a devastating U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidating its ability to trespass on farm property to organize workers, the union – with a major assist from President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the California Labor Federation – struck a deal with Gov. Gavin Newsom to see card check elections enacted for unionization efforts.

Wednesday, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2183, which shifts union elections from being ALRB-supervised on farm premises to mail balloting and authorization forms. The shift has led farm advocates to liken the change to card check organizing, wherein a majority of workers can sign a petition and unionize.

However, the late-inning signing by Newsom (who has until Friday to complete signing or vetoing bills), follows weeks of intense negotiations to create limits to the union’s ambitions through new voting rules.

While Newsom signed the bill, he along with UFW officials and the California Labor Federation committed to additional language, to be introduced in the Legislature in 2023, that would scale back some of the rules and adjust procedures.

A key part of the agreement between Newsom and union officials, is that the UFW is limited to 75 card-check elections through Jan. 1, 2028.

After that date, it can conduct an unlimited amount of card-check processes on California farms.

The bill, which both Newsom and his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, have previously vetoed, took on heightened importance when Pelosi and later Biden weighed in and called for its enactment.

Biden’s move was seen as a check on Newsom’s ever-growing national profile in anticipation of a still-denied but long-rumored eventual presidential bid.

Farm groups, however, were dismayed at Newsom’s shift over the bill. They’ve held that the measure increases the likelihood for worker intimidation without adequate protections from the ALRB.

“The California Farm Bureau is deeply disappointed in Gov. Newsom’s decision to sign the misguided union organizing legislation,” California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said in a statement. “Farm Bureau stands with California’s agricultural employees and will continue to defend their right to make uncoerced choices about union representation.”

Ian LeMay of the California Fresh Fruit Association, expressed irritation with Newsom over a lack of consultation with farmers.

“Since the veto of AB 616, a similar card check bill last year, there has been zero engagement with the agricultural industry from Governor Newsom and his administration to find a solution that best serves California farm employees,” LeMay said. “AB 2183 will not only eviscerate an employee’s previously sacred right to a secret ballot in a unionization election. It will also erode the property ownership and First Amendment rights of agricultural businesses across California. CFFA is also concerned with the idea of a legislative ‘fix’ to the issues in AB 2183 being drafted behind closed doors with no opportunity for input by all stakeholders.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) to defend his record as he attempts to oust Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) in Congress. 

Wednesday’s press conference came in response to an advertisement put out from the NRCC that highlighted Salas’s vote on Assembly Bill 2486 in 2018.

The advertisement said Salas voted to raise taxes on prescription drugs for the state’s most vulnerable by voting for AB 2486, which levied a fee on opioid manufacturers to reimburse the state’s cost for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction. 

Salas and Bonta served together in the Assembly for nearly a decade, and Bonta called Salas “a good friend and a wonderful leader for the Central Valley.” 

“These ads shamelessly lie in asserting that fees proposed on opioid manufacturers amounted to an increase in the cost of all prescription drugs. That could not be further from the truth,” Bonta said. 

“It’s really a sad day when helping to solve the opioid crisis is used in an attack ad. This was a solution to address the challenge of the opioid epidemic throughout our state, and there’s nothing in the bill whatsoever that raises the cost of prescription drugs.” 

Salas called the advertisement “one of the biggest lies voters will see in this campaign.” 

“Making opioid dealers pay for the damage they cause has zero, nada, zilch to do with insulin, asthma medication, cancer drugs, blood pressure medicine or anything else,” Salas said. 

“Right now California has the highest rates of opioid deaths in the country, and Kern County is no different.” 

Salas called on Valadao and the NRCC to pull the advertisement and apologize to the legislators who voted for AB 2486.

In a statement, Valadao campaign spokesman Andrew Renteria made it clear they wouldn’t stray from the attack, which may have proved to be a pressure point against the longtime state legislator.

“Most of the time, Rudy Salas doesn’t even bother to show up to vote, but when he does, he takes every opportunity to raise costs on Central Valley families’ drugs, gas, and groceries,” Renteria said. Voters will continue to hear more in this campaign about the ways Rudy puts himself and special interests ahead of them.”