Madera Community Hospital’s Board of Trustees has fired back at State Sen. Anna Caballero (D–Merced) for saying the hospital does not have a plan to reopen.
Board Chair Deidre da Silva wrote a letter to Caballero last week detailing the reasons behind the hospital’s closure and asking for her to use her position and influence to help reopen the hospital.
The backstory: Madera Community Hospital closed its doors on Jan. 10 following years of financial struggles fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the high cost of travel nurses and the low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates provided by the state.
- In response to Madera Community Hospital and others around the state that are in financial straits, the California Legislature created the Distressed Hospital Loan Program to provide $150 million in loans to not-for-profit and public hospitals.
- Earlier this month Caballero appeared on KSEE 24’s Sunday Morning Matters with Alexan Balekian and said the hospital has not produced the needed financial documents nor a plan to reopen, both of which are required to comply with the loan program.
State of play: In the letter, da Silva said Caballero mischaracterized and misrepresented the hospital in her comments to the media, saying Madera Community Hospital provided five years of audited financial statements to Caballero’s office on Jan. 10.
- The hospital says it needs $250,000 to hire a consultant to create a plan to comply with a loan program, a process that is expected to take two to three months. While the hospital made a request of Madera County to participate in developing the plan, the Madera County Board of Supervisors denied the request in March.
The path to reopening: Madera Community Hospital estimates that reopening will cost $50 million, yet da Silva said the hospital would be quickly back in the hole if it was able to reopen because of the inadequate Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.
- “It is not sustainable without higher Medi-Cal Rates, MCH and many other rural hospitals, will continue to run in the negative,” da Silva wrote.
- The legislature’s loan program will also not going to be the sole savior for the hospital given the need for a substantial change to Medi-Cal reimbursements, da Silva said.
- “What good is a $150,000,000 loan program now to prop up many California rural hospitals so they continue [to] operate at a loss as they careen toward a fiscal cliff in a few short years? The real problem has to be fixed,” da Silva wrote. “MCH knows all too well that a band aid approach just postpones the problem.”
The other side: While Caballero has not written an official response to da Silva and the hospital board, her office told The Sun that the hospital provided the financial documents dating back five years from June of last year.
- Caballero’s office requested more recent financial documents, but the hospital did not provide them.
- Caballero’s office also told The Sun that the Madera County Board of Supervisors offered to hire its own consultant – not the one that the hospital proposed – to develop a plan but the hospital did not agree to that proposal.