Local officials secure funds to “Save Our Hospitals”

(Rigo Moran)

Recent legislature provides loans to hospitals such as Kaweah Health and Ridgecrest Regional to keep rural hospitals alive

TULARE COUNTY – In an effort to save rural hospitals, Senator Shannon Grove and Tulare County Supervisor Larry Micari came together to secure loans to Central Valley hospitals at risk of closure.

Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) announced that two hospitals in her district received more than $26 million in desperately needed funds as part of the Distressed Hospital Loan Program. The program was created this year by the legislature and is designed to provide loans for nonprofit and public hospitals on the brink of collapse. Other officials such as Larry Micari voiced their support for the bill that will impact Tulare County’s local hospitals.

“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,” Tulare County Supervisor Larry Micari said at a State of Local Government Luncheon held in Visalia on Aug. 24.

Grove was able to help secure $20.8 million for the Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia and $5.5 million for Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in the city of Ridgecrest.

“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.”

According to Grove, the Madera Community Hospital closure sent a warning across California that hospitals are facing a critical financial crisis, especially in rural communities.

“While there are many people who contributed to our commitment to finding solutions for protecting our community’s access to quality local healthcare, the first person to acknowledge it is State Senator Shannon Grove,” Jim Suver, CEO of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital said.

Grove and her Senate Republican colleagues also wrote a letter to the governor urging him to sign Assembly Bill (AB) 112, a piece of legislation that established the Distressed Hospital Loan Program. She noted that any delays in implementing the program would put hospitals and their patients at risk.

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

According to a press release from Gov. Governor Newsom’s office, Newsom signed early action budget trailer bills including AB 112. 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.”

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