Tulare’s Hospital Board will soon have a new majority and a new focus if early vote counts hold true.
With 879 votes counted, 80.80% of voters chose to recall Dr. Parmod Kumar, and 74.97% chose Senovia Gutierrez as his replacement.
The recall campaign had been a long-fought one, with both sides — pro-recall and anti-recall — expending significant time and resources.
Anti-recall forces, centered around Residents for a Responsible Hospital and Parmod Kumar for TRMC, had raised a combined $60,000 — a large amount compared to Citizens for Hospital Accountability’s $25,321.
Despite the disparity in cash, spirits were high at Gutierrez’ election party before the election results came in. And when the results came in, the crowd was ecstatic.
Kevin Northcraft, a hospital board member and earlier candidate supported by Citizens for Hospital Accountability, said that the vote meant the hospital would return to the people.
“We’re going to be listening to the public,” Northcraft said.
“In electing Senovia Gutierrez as his [Kumar’s] replacement to join board members Kevin Northcraft and Mike Jamaica, our hospital can finally be liberated onto a path of restoration and rehabilitation,” a statement from the group read.
Gutierrez was grateful for the result.
“I want to thank God for the opportunity,” Gutierrez told the Voice. “Now this is an opportunity for change.”
Gutierrez said that among her first actions would be to change the meeting time — something board members Kevin Northcraft and Mike Jamaica attempted to do, but were unable — to allow more members of the public attend board meetings.
Gutierrez also said that she would seek separate legal counsel for the district. Currently, TLHCD shares legal representation with Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, the company which runs TRMC.
But her first priority, she said, was to improve and ensure the hospital’s quality of care.
“I will work most diligently for transparency and accountability to restore our public hospital and I will represent my district and my home of 23 years to the best of my abilities. We have common goals for our hospital throughout this city of ours: to revive quality healthcare with an adequate number of specialists,” a statement from Gutierrez read, “as well primary care physicians, to support hospital employees, to upgrade our facility and replace our hospital management administration, to take pride in our hospital’s services, and, most of all, to regain the public’s trust in utilizing those services.”