Local officials secure funds for Kaweah Health

(Rigo Moran)

Supervisor Larry Micari announces Senator Grove’s securement of $21 million to keep the Visalia Kaweah Delta Health Care District in operation

VISALIA – Local officials have locked down life-saving funding for Kaweah Health, which will allow the medical facility to continue to stay in operation and stay serving the community.

In an effort to save rural hospitals, Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) and Tulare County Supervisor Larry Micari came together to secure loans to Central Valley hospitals at risk of closure. On Feb. 27, at the Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairman Larry Micari announced that Senator Shannon Grove received confirmation that $21 million was secured to keep Kaweah Health hospital up and running.

“I’m happy that our efforts are moving forward and that we’re able to continue to keep our hospital open,” Micari said at the meeting. “ I’ve been working on that for a couple of years now with her trying to (save the hospital) from what’s happening.”

According to a press release from the Senator’s office, Grove was able to help secure $20.8 million for the Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia and $5.5 million for the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in Ridgecrest. Micari explained that Kaweah Health has been on the verge of going bankrupt for a while now.

“It’s going to help people in our community because it’s going to help keep our hospital open and staffed,” Micari said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette. “No business can operate in the negative…this funding will help them continue to provide services to our community.”

Micari explained that one of the things threatening the hospitals right now is that MediCal reimbursements do not cover all the expenses of necessary procedures. Because of this, Kaweah Delta Hospital has been working in the negative because they are only receiving a portion of reimbursement of what the actual procedures they offer are costing them.

This is why Senator Grove has been working to get funding for two hospitals in her district that desperately needed funds as part of the Distressed Hospital Loan Program, according to a press release from her office.

“Keeping Kaweah Hospital and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital open and serving their communities has been my top priority this year,” Grove said via press release. “Securing this funding relief was also a community effort with local organizations advocating for the health and wellness of Central Valley residents. Hospitals are the one thing that everyone will need at some point in their lives.”

The Distressed Hospital Loan Program is a state program that was created in 2023 and designed to provide loans for nonprofit and public hospitals on the brink of collapse. It came into action soon after the Madera Community Hospital closed in January 2023, which according to Grove, sent a warning across California that hospitals are facing a critical financial crisis, especially in rural communities.

Before the program was established, Grove and other Senate Republicans wrote a letter to the governor urging him to sign Assembly Bill (AB) 112, which put the Distressed Hospital Loan Program in place. She noted that any delays in implementing the program would put hospitals and their patients at risk.

Back in August 2023, Micari also voiced his support for the bill at a State of the Local Government Luncheon.

“I’ve worked on it for a long time. We’ve taken baby steps on it. I hope this bill takes us a long way to helping our hospitals because we need it here,” Micari said at the luncheon.

Grove has also been advocating to save rural hospitals that face an uncertain future by jointly authoring Senate Bill 774, the “Save Our Hospitals” measure. The measure aims to keep California Attorney General Rob Bonta from closing more financially distressed rural hospitals.

According to a press release from Gavin Newsom’s office, the Governor signed AB 112 to further the efforts to save the hospitals. The bill made a $150 million loan program immediately available for California’s not-for-profit and public hospitals on the brink of closure – or recently closed – to access so they can continue to serve their communities.

“I am grateful for the support of Governor Newsom, Dr. Ghaly, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Agency, and my colleagues in the legislature for recognizing the potentially disastrous consequences of these two hospitals closing their doors,” Grove said. “I am especially thankful for Tulare County Supervisor Larry Micari for his early advocacy on behalf of Kaweah Hospital and the community.”

Start typing and press Enter to search