Family HealthCare Network continues expansion projects

(Kenny Goodman)

Tulare County Board of Supervisors approves issuance of $40 million bond, allows Family HealthCare Network to continue construction on four county wide projects

VISALIA – After determining a bond issuance was a better way of funding building projects, Family HealthCare Network has plans to use $20 million for expansion projects in Tulare County.

On June 6, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved the issuance of tax-exempt bonds in a principal amount not to exceed $40 million by the California Municipal Finance Authority for Family Health Care Network (FHCN).

FHCN has four proposed projects that half of the funding will go toward in Tulare County, which includes renovations as well as new builds throughout the county. A public hearing was held to allow citizens to comment on the issue, but no one spoke.

Supervisor Amy Shuklian, district three “wholeheartedly” made the motion to approve it as she said at the meeting. It was seconded by district four supervisor Eddie Valero who echoed her sentiments.

“I think this is much needed, especially in communities where the demand is great, and many times the resources aren’t there,” Valero said. “And so again, just thank you for bringing this forward and knowing the importance of what this does for communities, especially our unincorporated communities.”

The proceeds from the bonds will be loaned by the finance authority to the FHCN, which is a California nonprofit, public benefit corporation. Currently $20 million from the bond will be used for four projects throughout the county and the remaining $20 million will be used for projects in Fresno and Kings Counties.

“The bond issuance has a total of seven projects,Kerry Hydash, FHCN president and CEO, said. “All of our projects in Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties are prioritized based on the needs of the communities we serve.”

The first project on their list in Tulare County is a major expansion of a current health center in Cutler-Orosi. This project is expected to be finished by June 2024 and $3 million from the bond will be used to expand FHCN’s current clinic located at 12586 Avenue 408 in Orosi. It will expand the property by approximately 9,000 square feet adding approximately five medical exam rooms, four dental rooms, a larger lobby, a new breakroom, meeting space and a larger pharmacy according to the staff report.

On the other side of the county, construction began on a new two-story, 22,000-square-foot administration building in late 2022 according to Hydash. About $5 million of the bond will be used to construct this building at 409 North Bridge Street. This new building will house about 100 employees and will provide space for FHCN’s information department and call center according to the staff report.

The largest portion of funding FHCN has allocated is about $9 million to create a service site for FHCN’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, also known as the PACE Program. Hydash said the Visalia PACE program started in late 2022 and is expected to be completed this year in December. Hydash said the new 25,000-square-foot building located at 510 East School Street, Visalia will be the first PACE center to open in Tulare County.

PACE provides a comprehensive medical and social service delivery system using an interdisciplinary team approach according to Hydash. She said it provides and coordinates all needed preventive, primary, acute and long-term care services to adults age 55 or older who might otherwise reside in​ nursing facilities, but are determined to be able to continue living independently.

“We are expecting to start seeing patients July 1, 2024 as the state and federal government approval process takes several months after the facility is built,” Hydash said.

According to the staff report, the bonds are classified as private activity bonds. The finance authority is the issuer of the revenue bonds to aggregate the $40 million. Hydash said FHCN decided to go this route in lieu of doing multiple individual bank loans for the various projects.

We are thankful for the approval, but it is only another step in the process for FHCN issuing the debt,” Hydash said. “The county approval provides FHCN access to tax-exempt interest rates from lenders, but it does not provide the financing or any guarantees for the debt.”

The county will incur no obligation as far as the bonds go. Their only involvement in the process was to hold a public comment period for the projects. Because the finance authority’s board of directors is not an elected body, there was a need to hold the public comment period with a “governmental unit with elected representatives.”  The board of supervisors fit the bill because there was also a requirement that the agency have jurisdiction over the area in which the projects to be financed are located according to the staff report.

“Although the authority (not the County) will be the issuer of the bonds, the financing cannot proceed without the county approving of the authority’s issuance of the bonds,” a staff report on the matter stated.

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