Just a couple weeks after providing a lifeline to Madera Community Hospital to keep its minimal operations intact as it seeks to reopen, Madera County is being asked once again to distribute part of its COVID-19 federal relief funds to the beleaguered hospital.
However, Madera County officials are pointing to a different set of decision makers to pay their fair share, pressing the City of Madera to cover this latest round of financing as the hospital still awaits word from the state for a decision on the Distressed Hospital Loan Program.
The backstory: Two weeks ago, the Madera County Board of Supervisors committed $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to Madera Community Hospital to cover the hospitals operating costs through Aug. 26.
- The hospital needed the funds to keep its minimal operations going after it applied to the California Distressed Hospital Loan Program – a $150 million loan program in total.
- A few weeks ago Adventist Health signed an agreement to take over Madera Community Hospital and create a reopening plan, making it eligible for state support.
- Madera County has already contributed $2 million in its federal COVID-19 relief funds to the hospital over the past two years.
The big picture: State of California officials have not made a decision on Madera Community Hospital’s application yet for the loan program, leading hospital CEO Karen Paolinelli to write a letter to Madera County asking for more financial assistance since the state might not make a decision for another 30 days.
- In the letter, Paolinelli said further financial assistance will provide the hospital with the necessary resources to survive until the state makes its decision.
- During Tuesday’s Madera County Board of Supervisors meeting, the board approved a letter to the City of Madera asking for the city to step up and meet the needs of the hospital since the county has already spent millions trying to keep the hospital open.
- The county is requesting the city to allocate a small percentage of its $23 million in ARPA funds to save the hospital’s assets from liquidation over the next few months, pointing out that a majority of the hospital’s patients reside in the city.
What they’re saying: “This is not the burden of one entity, but this is the burden of a community. And it needs to be shared as a burden,” Supervisor David Rogers said. “So far the county’s the only one that’s stepped up. We’ve provided $2 million in CARES Act and ARPA funding, and I think it’s apropos that the city of Madera that has received $23 million in ARPA funding could take a small percentage of that to offset the needs of the hospital during this critical time as a bridge to potential reopening.”
- Supervisor Jordan Wamhoff called for the city to work together with the county and be a partner.
- “There are some other issues with this that I have, that the state said they would have a funding decision by mid-August,” Wamhoff said. “Here we are in mid-August and they failed. We’re not dealing with something miniscule. This is a community hospital that is being held together with tape right now. There’s issues all the way around, but from my perspective I do not want to venture down this road alone. And I think it would show a lot to have the City of Madera step up in a manner in which the county has so we can move forward in one direction to help constituents of this entire county.”