Tulare hospital district fills District 3 seat, curbs VA talks

Marmie Fidler to serve out the remainder of Senovia Gutierrez’s District 3 term at Tulare Local Hospital District; VA out at Evolutions

TULARE – Tulare resident Marmie Fidler has been appointed to the vacant District 3 seat at the Tulare Local Hospital District, and will serve out the remainder of resigned board director Senovia Gutierrez’s term until Nov. 2022.

Fidler, a Tulare native her whole life, began her life in the hospital in Tulare, as did her four children. Its life and death in Tulare for Fidler, who with her husband is in the line of work of making headstones and monuments for the cemetery in town through their business, Barnes Memorial. Also a current board member at the Tulare Hospital Foundation, Fidler said she’s ready to serve and speak her mind.

“I think as a woman I would bring a different point of view, as Senovia [Gutierrez] did, on the board,” Fidler said at her Nov. 10 interview with the board. “I do have a conscience and I vote with my conscience.”

When asked about her thoughts about Adventist Health’s role in the community, Fidler said she’s on board with the faith-based healthcare giant.

“Because of my space on the [Tulare] Hospital Foundation, I see probably a lot more than most of how much money is pumped into this hospital,” Fidler said. “I had a daughter deliver a baby here…the nurses and the staff there were so wonderful. I wish when I was having babies it would have been like [that]. I’m completely behind [them], I really do support Adventist Health.”

In her interview with the board, Fidler expressed that she would be interested in running for the seat again in 2022.

Nay on the VA

In front of a board room full of gym goers who showed up to the Nov. 23 special board meeting in protest of offering any bit of Evolutions Fitness Center for a Veterans Affairs facility, the hospital board voted to curb any more talk of offering space at the city’s beloved gym for a regional VA medical clinic. After hearing out a memorandum of understanding to gauge the board’s interest with nothing set in stone from Catalyst Capital—an investment and management firm specializing in U.S. government-leased properties—Board president Kevin Northcraft made the motion, which passed 3-1 to end the conversation.

Board secretary Xavier Avila, the sole “no” vote Nov. 23, has been a supporter of seeing a VA facility under the roof of Evolutions, and had been fighting a months-long battle with a seemingly misinformed public about a “VA-or-gym’’ dilemma. At the Nov. 23 special meeting, Steven Cody of Catalyst Capital said there has never been a plan to kill the gym altogether.

“The intention has always been to keep the gym,” Cody said. “There’s no reason that 25,000 feet will completely replace the gym, [but] there would have to be some downsizing and shifting.”

Securing a VA facility in Tulare had been a hot ticket item over the summer for the hospital district. Back in July, the board quashed the idea of leasing Evolutions to the VA at the cost of any or all of their gym, consequently costing the city further consideration for a VA site. The process has now repeated coming into the winter.

The VA facility would have brought stable, government rent to a building Avila said is a financial drain on the hospital district, one that is in need of $70 million to fulfill their promise to the community of completing the hospital tower over 15 years in the making.

The Sun-Gazette will continue to report on the financial picture of the hospital district and Evolutions in the coming weeks.

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