UPDATED: Tulare Regional Medical Center to Undergo Chapter 9 Bankruptcy

The Tulare Local Healthcare District Board of Directors at a September 29, 2017 emergency board meeting. Tony Maldonado/Valley Voice

The Tulare Local Healthcare District’s Board of Directors has made it official: the district is in a financial crisis and will file Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Kevin Northcraft, Senovia Gutierrez, and Mike Jamaica voted unanimously on the move at an emergency meeting declared and held on Friday, September 29. Richard Torrez resigned his position from the board effective Thursday morning.

The vote comes only two days after Dr. Benny Benzeevi threatened to shut down the hospital if the board didn’t pursue a loan. Benzeevi is the CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), a company contracted to oversee day-to-day operations of the hospital.

A Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding could not only provide the district with some relief from multiple lawsuits currently pending against it for nonpayment, but also potentially invalidate the management company’s controversial agreement with the healthcare district.

Northcraft, the board’s chairman, stated that the board’s key goals would be to find a new management partner and to ensure that the partner would take on all of the employees currently working at Tulare Regional Medical Center.

“We will be looking for an interim [partner] and a more formal process for a longer term relationship,” Northcraft said. “And we’re certainly looking for people that can come in with instant credibility and begin to restore the quality.”

The hospital district could file its bankruptcy petition as soon as Monday — marked exhibits were already on hand to be provided to the public by the time the meeting was over.

The Rollercoaster to Bankruptcy

Employees of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates sought answers at an all-hands employee meeting Friday morning. Tony Maldonado/Valley Voice

The bankruptcy filing is part of a rollercoaster ride that started when employees of the hospital didn’t receive their paychecks Thursday.

While it wasn’t the first time the company wasn’t able to make payroll in a timely fashion, the widespread nature appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for many.

Administrators with HCCA called all-hands meetings on Thursday night and Friday morning and told employees that the fate of their paychecks, and the hospital, rested with the board — stating that a loan was needed to ensure the hospital’s continued operation. Press reports spread Thursday, and a video of Thursday’s meeting leaked out.

In a Thursday all-hands meeting that was recorded and published on the website of the Visalia Times-Delta, Germany told employees that multiple options for loans were presented to board members. Benzeevi was absent from that meeting.

Benzeevi and Germany both spoke Friday morning. One employee at the Friday meeting claims that Benzeevi stated the company had been reaching out to the board for “months and months” to pursue a loan without response.

“When we were at the forum this morning, all the blame was being shoved over to you guys, saying that you guys were the reason why we did not get our paychecks,” another employee, named Melissa, said at the Friday board meeting. “Right now, none of us in this auditorium knows who to believe anymore.”

Northcraft told the public at the Friday board meeting that claims from HCCA’s administration weren’t true — and they weren’t even provided any notice that the management company wasn’t able to pay its employees.

“As late as Wednesday night, they prepared an agenda — did not list any loans on that agenda, did not ask for any action items, did not present any information about a loan,” Northcraft said. “They did not mention — this was Wednesday night — that they could not make payroll the following day on Thursday.”

Germany had told the employees Thursday night that they all employees would likely receive paychecks by Tuesday, October 3, — but that it wasn’t guaranteed. On Friday morning, however, many employees reported receiving their pay, even though a loan wasn’t approved by the board.

No Financial Data

The company’s contract with the healthcare district — signed by prior board members — gives the company wide control over day-to-day operations and includes provisions sweeping the healthcare district’s bank accounts nightly into ones controlled by the company.

Alan Germany, CFO of HCCA, speaks at the Tulare Local Healthcare District’s September 27 meeting. Tony Maldonado/Valley Voice

That’s been a perpetual thorn in the side for Northcraft and Jamaica, who told the public Friday they’d been continually seeking financial information on their district without success.

Northcraft had previously made requests for reports of accounts payable as far back as January of 2017, without response. Nothing changed at the Friday meeting — while Benzeevi was unable to attend due to the Yom Kippur holiday, Germany was also absent, even though he was at the hospital that morning to speak to staff.

Without data, the board was forced to file bankruptcy largely blind to any creditors that could exist, though Northcraft did state that the hospital is in arrears to the City of Tulare for water services, in addition to Southern California Edison.

“We’ve asked since January for accounts payable information, and had we received that, we would have had some understanding of what was happening and what was going down,” Northcraft said. “But this is a created emergency, certainly, by the operator of our hospital.”

The financial crisis comes as a complete 180 degree turn from statements as recent as March, when a promotional pamphlet by HCCA stated that the hospital had been profitable for 35 consecutive months, and that the findings were backed by multiple audits and credit upgrades.

Chapter 9 – The Pros and Cons

The board hired the Walter Wilhelm Law Group based in Fresno to assist in the hospital’s bankruptcy proceedings.

Riley Walter, an attorney with the group, spoke to the board and the public on the differences between Chapter 9 bankruptcy, a category only available to government entities, and other forms of bankruptcy.

“What’s important to you, as a community, is that your board remains in control,” Walter said. “Unlike a Chapter 11, where virtually every single action has to be approved by the court, that’s not the way it works in Chapter 9, so your board remains in place and your board remains in control.”

Walter also noted that a Chapter 9 filing would give the hospital district an automatic stay against any lawsuits that could be filed — giving the district a “breathing spell.”

That automatic stay took effect September 30, according to a court filing made available to the Voice.

The Chapter 9 filing would also allow the district to potentially recover some “inappropriate payments, or excessive payments, or payments made without appropriate consideration,” Walter said.

But a bankruptcy filing wasn’t an easy out, Walter said.

“You essentially are hitting that pause button and you’re having to restructure and start over,” he said.

In the contract signed by the district with HCCA, however, the district agreed to not reject the HCCA contracts and to designate HCCA as a “vendor supplier that is critical to the District’s business and obtain a critical vendor order” that would provide preferred status to HCCA’s pre-petition claims.

Virtual Back-and-Forth

A series of email exchanges between the board’s lawyers, working for the McCormick Barstow law firm in Fresno, and attorneys with the Orrick law firm, representing HCCA, lay bare the deteriorating situation on Thursday.

After reports of Thursday’s events, Tim Thompson, representing the board, sent a pointed letter to Marshall Grossman, an attorney representing HCCA.

“As you will see in [the Times-Delta] video, contrasted with what we listened to last night, there are obvious false representations being made by Mr. Germany to the TRMC staff members. Specifically, Mr. Germany represents in this staff meeting that HCCA has presented the board with ‘a lot of information regarding loans’, including the ‘details and terms of those loans,’ and ‘the board is going to be considering the loans,’” Thompson wrote. “None of this occurred.”

Later in the evening, another attorney representing HCCA forwarded a letter from Benzeevi.

“At the […] meeting last night, I also informed Kevin Northcraft that he can call for a special board meeting the next day (today) and resolve the cash crisis. He did not do so. I am therefore hereby requesting that pursuant to sections 1.b or 1.c of the District bylaws, the Board conduct a special or an emergency meeting on Sunday, October 1, or Monday, October 2, the purpose of which will be for me to present the loan options to the Board and for the Board to consider and authorize the District to enter into a loan transaction,” Benzeevi wrote.

“I remind you again that the District is COMPLETELY out of cash, that many vendors are threatening to cease providing goods and services, that the District lacks sufficient cash to fund the entire gross payroll and that HCCA, which is owed in excess of $7 million, is unwilling to extend further credit to the District,” he continued.

Can’t Pay Vendors

Northcraft stated at the meeting that the hospital is in arrears to the City of Tulare for past due water bills, and to Southern California Edison.

“Both water and electric have asked if they have permission to shut off those for nonpayment,” Northcraft said. “The state, fortunately, said you do not have permission.”

Benzeevi also stated Wednesday that the company had “provided substantial revolving funding to the hospital over the years, to a cumulative total of $14m,” but that it would no longer do so due to a “destructive political environment.”

On September 15, the management company had deemed itself “insecure,” citing a section of its contract with the hospital district that allowed it to force the district to obtain a letter of credit from a financial institution “acceptable to HCCA” to show it was able to pay the contract’s termination fee, upwards of $8.4m.

If the district didn’t provide the company with a letter, it would have been forced to pay the company’s termination fee anyway.

Deanne Martin-Soares, a former board member and member of Citizens for Hospital Accountability, stated that the problems started as soon as HCCA came through the doors of the hospital.

“18 months ago, there were lawsuits already happening with your billing company,” Martin-Soares said, referring to a lawsuit against the hospital from Firstsource Solutions. “This is a pattern of not paying the bills.”

“When you have a CEO that is making $268,000 a month, and he’s making $20,000 a month to oversee the emergency room, and then you have on top of that Alan Germany — that we know for sure he’s making $39,000 a month, but actually reports we’re receiving is it’s more like $49,000 a month, plus an $8,000 per month expense report,” Martin-Soares said. “You need to do the math on that. This little hospital — I sat on the board, I know what it brings in revenue. There is no way this hospital can support those kind of salaries.”

Employees Speak Out

During the meeting’s public comment section, one employee described confusion among the hospital’s employees.

“We’re not getting paid, we’re here for our community, we’re here for our patients regardless. We’re scared, we’re concerned — we were told today that if we don’t get paid, it’s because you guys didn’t fund our paycheck. That’s why we’re confused,” one woman, an employee, stated. “We’re just there for the patients, and it’s really, really hard. And we don’t know what’s true or not true — we don’t know what’s coming or going.”

Another employee said that supplies were dwindling.

“We are in dire straits. It seems as though it’s constantly — and especially in the last few months — we have gone down to limited supplies, whether it be linen, whether it be IV supplies, whether it be life-saving material such as blood,” Tom Woodland, an employee at the hospital, said. “The bottom line is this: if this hospital closes, and working in EMS for ten years, your lives are at risk. Bottom line.”

“We need to get this straight, we are running out of supplies, we are in constant need of equipment, and miraculously every time the state shows up — oh my gosh, there it is, there’s some equipment for us,” Woodland continued.

Dig deeper: read more about Friday’s all-hands employee meeting, Thursday’s chaos, and the board’s early reaction.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

59 thoughts on “UPDATED: Tulare Regional Medical Center to Undergo Chapter 9 Bankruptcy

  1. Thank you to the Board members for their hard work.
    Thank you to the citizens of Tulare for fighting to get their hospital back.
    Hopefully this is the start of the long road to getting a decent community hospital.

  2. Please get these thieves out of here & into jail. Their actions have been beyond shameless. They are spawn of sat an.

    Time to start a fresh start – without the black shadow that we had had since 1994.
    There is plenty of business to make a hospital thrive in this town of ~60K people. Look at Porterville hosp – similar size and it is thriving.
    There are many doctors who want to make this hospital a success – if they dont have to deal with these sat ans.

  3. It’s going to be a long hard road Tulare will be going down but in the long run will be worth it…..just getting back control in the interim is a relief. Tulareans need to ask not what your hospital can do for you but what we can do for our hospital. How can we help?

  4. Fire HCCA put them in line with the rest of the creditors that were not paid under HCCA management.
    It is now the citizens turn to come together(putting all politics aside)ban together and do what ever necessary to make our hospital great again. We can do it. ALSO thank you to all employees who have stuck it out under this horrible conditions brought on by HCCA

  5. I saw the paperwork from the HCCA lawyers stating you board were receiving monthly financials, which we were not. Alan Germany stated that ‘big companies don’t do monthly reports so we are switching to quarterly…..RED FLAG….
    This last Audit they refer to was $10 million off! Then to top it off Germany stated that they haven’t paid their fee yet, so the new audit can’t be started until it is……
    STONEWALLING………..
    Just like the lady said long ago, Where’s our Money…..he’s probably banking our money in his Vi Loan and Hospital Management LLC so he can turn around and ‘loan’ it back to us.
    Hopefully the Sheriff will escort him out of the building real soon.

  6. Kudos to Kevin, Mike and Senovia. If the hospital can be saved,and I believe it can, much of the credit belongs to you three. Thanks for the many hours you have spent seeking a solution. The community appreciates your efforts.

  7. So Chapter 9 may be a good thing in the long run with creditors, but how does that help the financial crisis now in getting supplies and paying employees? Kevin mentioned a new management group as early as Monday, and VTD had an article that KDDH has ramped up staffing and was willing to help. So one can only assume that to be the plan. If so, fellow Visalians, take note. Tulare has had an ongoing mess with Boards and management for the past 18 years. Their community group is made of fired past employees with a grudge, a vocal past Board member who thinks she knows health care financing, but herself placed her health care company in bankruptcy and failed to pay her employees, local attorneys who use community members(including family) to file suits. They got themselves into a bad contract, and don’t forget BB spent thousands to defeat KDDH bond. So, now our tax dollars in our District will be used to bail them out? After an initial offer was made to TRMC and the response was thanks but no thanks? So Germany reported Wednesday they closed Lindsay Clinic, not our District they closed Kingsburg, not our District. So I say to TRMC, not our tax dollars, cuz not our District, Carl, don’t get KDDH into that mess, that community does not know how to work together it’s evident for the last 28 years and always blame someone else. And by the way, most patients coming from Tulare are Medi-Cal you lose money on every patient coming. Visalians, show up at the next KDDH Board meeting and just say no.

    • Thanks for your comments but you really have no idea of what you speak about. Our core group (20) that started 20 months ago only had one past employee, myself and I wasn’t fired, I resigned in 1993 to move out of the area. I was a nursing supervisor when I left. Out of the others that joined our group there is less than 3 that worked there and one includes a person that was terminated not long after she reported billing issues in the clinics.

      You are sorely mistaken that it was a mess with boards and management for 18 years. We had great plans, strategic growth was happening. We had 53% occupancy and we were growing private insurance market share. We built Evolutions to support the bottom line. Tulare is not just made up of people on Medi-Cal. You might ask what changed that, simple an $85 million dollar bond was passed in late 2005 and greed set in.

      Yes, I am outspoken because I saw what happened then and healthcare is very important to me. I read all meeting minutes and agendas in 2013 when I was off the board for 4 years, hoped we could have cleaned up then but the community couldn’t stomach it. I could see more of the same was happening. When I was asked to get involved again 20 months ago I knew this time had a shot to be different because after almost 10 years more of the community could see what was happening. I definitely understand the hospital financials.

      Now to my personal issue, I had a labor violation for a very small change to a labor law that I missed when labor laws were revamped in 2000. Over 4 years it was 2.7% of company payroll. I went on trial in SLO County for $4,000 in wages, the other $27,000 had already been paid back to employees. The award, which was horrible, was $218,000 plus $150,000 for attorney fees. The award even included the name of a deceased client that was to get $1800, again poorly done but the judge approved everything the plaintiff attorney had presented. I had two options close the company or Chapter 11 to save the company and the jobs of 200 people. It was the hardest thing we ever got through as a business.

      I have no shame and I don’t care if people want to attack me. It will not stop me from bringing light to a very bad issue that you can’t even imagine how egregious it really is.

      Let the board do their job of establishing an interim partner. Tulare needs to remain viable for our community but also for the good of the county.

    • You criticize Deanne Martin-Soares, yet she never hides behind a pseudonym. When she has been critical of HCCA or former boards she also offers solutions. I have been proud to stand with her in the fight to bring accountability and transparency to the hospital district and return our public hospital to the citizens of the district….and yes, I am using my real name, too.

    • Truth be told Deanne is one leader in our community who enjoys wide spread respect and gratitude from so many Tulareans. I knew her maternal grandparents, her mother and uncles and I can definitely say that she does her family proud. Truth be told this city is extremely lucky to have Deanne in our corner.

  8. EH yoyr questions would have been answered if you would have gone to the meeting. All 3 attornies did a bang up job explaining it in layman’s terms. No one named KDDH as the go to group. A member of the audience suggested them. If you have ever had to go to their ER you would be appalled at the wait time. Sat for 7 to 9 hours when my husband was ill. They are overwhelmed with people from every district because there are only 3 functioning hospitals in this county.
    The new board is just starting to look for a “Repytable and QUALiFIED” group to help, they don’t want short term. They want them for the long haul. It will be a long haul to repair what these croojs have done to Tulare and Inyo. The Chapter 9 will be the first step to dump the. legally without Tukare having to pay their ransom. Once the Feds are involved they will make the inquiries into the actions of HCCA. This is not a negative thing. This will help in the long run, but it is NOT an overnight remedy. Quit bad mouthing this new board. They have what is right for our commu ity in their crosshairs. They are doing everything they can to rid us of this blight!

  9. I never bad mouthed the new Board unless you are insinuating that they are puppets of the community group which many people have thought all along. Further Kevin mentioned short term and long term management solutions. If you have read the VTD article I referred too, you would know TLHD Board members met with KDDH CEO just this Thursday. Still the bigger question that hadn’t been answered is how are employees going to get paid in 10 days and how are badly needed supplies going to be procured?

    • Most Tulareans have been using KDDH for years now. If you want to comfirm this fact then check with KDDH and they will no doubt confirm it. Most Tulareans shop in Visalia and have been doing so form many years. In fact Tulareans as a whole have all along throughout these many years and decades contributed in mass to Visalia’s financial pie. And yes you were bad mouthing not only our new Board but you were bad mouthing the real saviors of our hospital, the citizens group made up of many community leaders in this town. Without them spearheading this movement there would be no new Board of Directors….we would still be stuck with Benzeevi’s gang of thieves; Kumar, Bell, Wilbourn, and Torrez. They would still be doing Benzeevi’s bidding in the selling off of TRMC’s assets.

  10. So if Tulareans have been using KDDH for years, why haven’t they been supporting their own Hospital? Won’t use it, but expect residents in KDDH tax District to bail it out? But still they say they need a hospital. Okay. Further why aren’t these proud Tulareans shopping in their own town to support a tax base? Ever heard of Shop Local? Well then again, look at your very lovely deserted downtown, guess that’s why folks go to Visalia. We invested in development not bashing each other. As far as supporting the new Board, jury is still out, after all they are new. You’re all about transparency but the Board certainly did not say they had met with KDDH leadership. At this juncture that’s pretty important. And still my question what is the immediate plan to purchase needed supplies and how are employees going to be paid?

    • HCCA is their employer and they were magically paid, all of the, the very next day after they said there was no money. Remember they control all bank accounts per the contract.

    • You could be given many valid reasons why one would elect to use KDDH over TRMC and also why one would elect to shop in certain stores in Visalia instead of Tulare but then that is not what you are really wanting to know. All you are wanting is to spread your negativity…..because that seems to be your nature, spreading negativity just because it makes you feel better. How very sad.

  11. Count me as one tax payer who will never vote for a cent of tax increase again! We are ripped off, robbed and ripped off again! The public funds that Tulare has flushed down the virtual toilet disgust me! Now you want to screw your creditors? Sickening! And the KDDH board should be recalled if they dare to try infusing themselves into that disaster. They’ve already tried to tax us for the services that other cities need but will not pay for.

  12. Negativity got us exactly what we have been stuck with for months. KDDH is not bailing us out. Just because they talked to their people doesn’t mean they are jumping into bed with them. Hell there are all kinds of rumors going on out there about who is coming to “save us”. I put little stock as to what is printed in the TD. Tgey are afterall a Visalia paper. Their taxpayers are not going to have to bail us out. This new board has taken the first steps to saving our hospital…Chapter 9. They are still in the dark about tge depths of HCCA’s deception. HCCA is still maneuvering and bold face lying to this board. Go to a meeting, do your homework and form an educated opinion EH.
    As far as never paying another tax cent. Not possible. If you are a taxpaying homeowner you can not pick and choose what taxes you pay. Educate yourselves before making ridiculous statements. Your only option….rent or move.

  13. The board needs to look at all options with regards to a management company. I know that at one point Kaiser was interested in Tulare. How about Adventist? KDDH is not the only option. I hope they know that.

  14. “So if Tulareans have been using KDDH for years, why haven’t they been supporting their own Hospital?”

    Since the crooks took over and ran out all the good doctors – no one wants to go there and put there life in danger.

    There was a time it was a decent little hospital – back before the crooks came into town…The regular employees that have been there a long time are decent people and happy they will be able to continue working when this is all panned out.

    Hope that answers your question.. 🙂

  15. I used to not go to KDDH and have been in TDH a few times, the last being just a couple of months ago for unexplained blood loss. I received two units of blood and a third was ordered but never given and the order disappeared from the computer. No proof but I think because the blood bank was not being paid. I was kept two more days and released. further testing at home showed I was still losing blood. During my stay of four days no effort that I’m aware of was made to find out why I was losing blood. The nursing staff and the techs I had contact with did an excellent job with what they had to work with and I can’t say enough about them and they are the people who should be paid first. This was all paid for by insurance. I now and until things change will not go to TDH for health care. I just got out of KDDH after having a procedure that was so new that the nurses who were caring for me had never seen it. I would have loved to have been at this last meeting to tell my story but unfortunately I am unable to do such things right now. I hope and pray that TDH recovers and gets better but until then I’ll go where I have to go.

  16. remember the past :goggle this title
    Back from the brink of closure: How a California hospital rebounded after 3 years of losses
    Written by Ayla Ellison (Twitter | Google+)  | October 06, 2015 | Print | Email

    • Oh yes – I remember that – that was the other crook – Bolouki.

      And he was pals with the “old board” gang, too – especially Dr Parmod Kumar, the president of the old board – a slimy character that one is…
      All of them were crooks destroyed the hospital for their own personal gain.

      This is the chump, Kumar, that was the old president of the board…..

      http://www.ourvalleyvoice.com/2017/07/06/tulare-politics-get-fishy-hospital-recall-nears/

      You can trace back the fall of the hospital to the old board members and the CEO thieves they brought in to steal – I mean run the hospital

      There will be a big improvement now with this new board. These new folks on the board are a breath of fresh air.

  17. Did anyone catch the one and only, the great Mike Atkins speaking?
    Thank you Mike for your support and glad to see you are doing well.
    This new Board has started the process of sweeping the garbage, Benzeevi, Germany, Ostrom to the curb.
    Thank you again to the citizens of Tulare for putting democracy into action.

  18. Since your community group is so committed to transparency, why didn’t Kevin say that Board members met with KDDH Administration on Thursday? Additionally, if more than one member was in that meeting, that was a clear violation of the Brown Act since Richard had resigned a quorum would be two of a sitting Board of three. VTD reported in the plural. I would like this new transparent Board to publicly state who was at that meeting. If nothing to hide, they will. Otherwise, same old stuff, different names, and the sorry saga of Tulare continues.

    • Hi EH,
      the good news is that the new Board can possibly not due any worse than your amigos Benzeevi, Germany, Kumar, and Ostrom.
      I mean they have not even been paying the water bill, were you aware of that EH?
      We are paying Benzeevi millions of dollars for that? I don’t remember him mentioning anything about not paying the water bill.
      Supposedly 2 million dollar in hand and 21 million in debt? Thank you Drs Benzeevi and Ostrom and Kumar.

      I will take my chances with the new Board, thank you very much 🙂

    • again EH…..
      If HCCA says they aren’t managing the hospital any longer then it is the board who has to step in. Benzeevi claimed himself as CEO of TLDH and CEO of HCCA.
      When I read the article it seemed to me they were asking about the transferring of Patients…..nothing about KDDH running the hospital.
      jumping to conclusions and false accusations much?

  19. Stop the personal attacks on Deanne and Thank God she is working so hard to point out the “Greed Machine” that has consumed the hospital. I worked with Deanne and am proud to say it was sad to see her leave years ago. Now the City of Tulare has chance to finally right the ship while kicking the crooked thieves to jail where they ALL belong. The whole lot of ex-board members and Benny have met their match. Hopefully their actions will involve an orange outfit. In the meantime I think Deanne and her passionate Citizens are stellar for their tireless efforts to bring back the hospital we once had so full of potential. The people of Tulare believed in it and saw the future by passing a bond to build it better. Unfortunately that’s where the story ends in a parade of leeches. Keep up the good work you Citizens!!!!!!!!!! Did I hear Mike Adkins is on the case?

  20. I never said I supported BB and his cronies, just because i question the new Board. Looks like I hit a nerve with folks who like to dish it out but can’t take it. What I don’t like is people throwing around accusations and appearing to feel above reproach when that is most certainly not the case. TRMC has a history of mismanagement and tumultuous Board relations and that most certainly didn’t start with BB/HCCA, perhaps it’s the worst but not the first and the rate this is going, won’t be the last. Wish you luck finding a partner, won’t be Kaiser, they are a closed system
    That doesn’t take Medi-cal, Adventist will take everything but the Hospital, that’s there strategy. Example is Corcoran, Kingsburg, Colusa etc, maybe Community in Fresno, but with Obamacare up in the air and a half finished tower and looming bankruptcy that would be risky, let alone dealing with this community that doesn’t even support or use their own hospital. So I just decided I was going to layout all the hypocrisy that has been out there, that’s all. And lastly, as hard as you said you have worked to get this Board elected, i want to make sure folks in Visalia KDDH District don’t foot the bill. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you have gotten. Is that good enough?

    • It’s true that there have been issues with the previous boards as well. However we have never had a situation where the CEO is claiming his company as the savior of TRMC, while at the same time failing to pay the water bill. We have never had a CFO who gives a 20 minute presentation one evening without mentioning a single word about the employees not getting paid the next morning. We have never had a chief of staff, Ostrom, whom when confronted about patient safety issues, responds “what do you want me to do about it”?
      You are damn right you hit a nerve. I work in that hospital and I hate to see what has happened to it.
      As far as taxes on Visalia citizens, well, we pay taxes on our houses, on our cars, on our groceries, state tax, federal tax, get the picture? Citizens will decide if they don’t mind paying additional taxes to keep the hospital open. It’s not on the top of my priority list at this moment.

  21. TRMC Employee, I understand where you are coming from, gross negligence in allowing this to happen. As you have read in my previous posts, multiple times I asked the question as to how needed and necessary supplies are going to be procured immediately and how are the employees going to get paid if there is no cash. I started out saying the Chap 9 is good down the road, but the Board did not address the immediate dire situation of employees, supplies and equipment. That is critical now. I understand that most if not all employees showed up for shifts even though they hadn’t been paid, they are hard working and need supplies to do their job safely. The new Board did not address that. We should all expect them to.

    • EH, BB, or whoever you are….you imply your intent is concern for employees, or your concern for the taxpayers in Visalia….but you tipped your hand when you started with a personal attack against Deanne Martin-Soares…that makes your posts very familiar. Benzeevi, Kumar, and their cronies always take to social media with fake profiles, fake names, fake initials with the intent of casting aspersions, creating doubt, and making misstatements. If you really want information come to a board meeting, but as long as you hide behind your initials and try to use this platform as a means to slander, then I for one will not take seriously anything you have to say. Again, using my real name…

  22. 1- Once in Chapter 9, financing will be quite okay. I will not give details here but I can share with board members.

    2- I dont want Adventist. It will be stable but it is very “corporate”. Not good for staff or patients or doctors.

    3- Adventist will like a hospital the size of TRMC – esp given that it comes with 4-5 rural clinic licences.

    4- Personal attacks on Deanne is nonsensical. She has given her time & energy selfless. How many of you can say the same? But, I am not worried. I know she has developed thick skin.

    5- Board can make a deal with Dr. Parmod Kumar that in exchange for his help in bringing Benny & thieves co to justice, we will let him get away by just stopping to work at TRMC and will not kill his career by reporting to the medical board. I know, the skeletons that will come out of CEO’s closet once we have someone other than Kumar’s puppet in chair, is enough to get Kumar’s licence revoked. It is a slam dunk BUT we will be willing to spare his licence if he agrees to help us.

    6- At this point, board is obligated to initiate investigate into Kumar’s professional conduct. It was widely known, published in newspaper about his pornographic prescriptions and harassment of female employees and anger issues and medical record non-completion at Hillman clinic.
    If board does not do it, it is setting it up exposing to liability. In a future lawsuit against Kumar, lawyer will ask the board “You knew these XYZ issues, why did you not take action to protect patients?”

    • The board should not be making any deals with Dr. Kumar, especially without awareness of his role and his gain in this whole debacle. The community deserves answers.

  23. I agree.
    It is not optional at this time if hospital board should investigate Kumar’s conduct or not.

    Once in public knowledge, it is not an issue limited to and within medical staff jurisdiction.

    I am sure Benny & Bolouki have obliged (in exchange of million they got) by hiding/destroying documents related to past allegations and investigations. Investigation officer/committee will have to take testimonies under oath from past employees/doctors/patients.

    OTOH, it is quite possible that Benny has securely kept such documents with him so that he can use them in future for leverage against Kumar.

    Either way, Kumar should not be practicing at this hospital anymore. Parmod Kumar has never been able to pass medicine board exams. If new medical staff rules say that board certification is needed (as it should be & as it is at KDH) for membership, that will effectively bar Kumar from working here. In any case, we would want better quality criteria for our doctors.

  24. We are very thankful to the community and the staff for your supports of TRMC in this very difficult time.

    Late Mr. Montion always told us that one third of Tulare people go to Visalia for health care and one quarter of Visalia patient come to Tulare.

    TRMC is important that talented people do not need to drive far to work. TRMC provides emergency care for the community. TRMC has always been an alternative to a good hospital in Visalia. TRMC can not be like Stanford Medical Center that solves most complicated medical problems. Nonetheless, TRMC once provided same quality care for many common medical problems and procedures like pneumonia, chronic lung diseases, ulcers, appendectomies, gall bladder surgeries, childbirths and others. Most important, TRMC is the symbol for local young generation to choose medicine as their career path.

    Chief Justice John Roberts in June this year said “I wish you bad luck”. Yes, we already have the bad luck. He also said “And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”

    We all have our strengths and flaws. If you look at flaws of people, you will find dead-ends everywhere and nowhere to escape. If you look at the strength of people, you will see opportunities everywhere.

    Dr. Parmod Kumar has flaws that are well-published. I will always respect his dedication to his patients. He builds his practice by working long hours, prompt service to patients’ needs, and willingness to take difficult emergency patients while other gastroenterologists turn away.

    The tried and proven way to build patient base is to provide services to non-funded and under-funded patients. When you treat these patients right, other well-funded patients will follow. In the long run, it is the good service the got paid well. And we all know by now, paying big money does not always receive good service. We need to treat our existing patients very well. They are the ticket to our future success.

    Quote Mr. Motion again, “circle our wagons”. We need to build our future on our strengths and cover our flaws. When we band together like Roman army, we can be successful like them.

    • In all due respect, Dr. Kuo, your comments were very poetic, however the bottom line is Dr. Parmod Kumar is a crook and has some real strange problems with the prescription pad.

      I don’t have a problem with flaws. I do have a problem with Doctors who are crooks and have “other issues”.
      Those are not flaws – not even with a poetic touch on it.

  25. I am very saddened by the events occurring at TRMC. Hopefully this new board can help resolve the many issues brought on by HCCA. It would be a great disservice to Tulare to lose their hospital. Keep fighting for and supporting the hospital and the new board.

  26. I get you Dr Kuo and I respect your point.
    But, I dont think board is in a position to ignore it. It is a legal landmine.
    It is one thing to tackle an anger issue, it is quite another to tackle sexual harassment.
    If I were on the board, I dont think I will have the luxury of ignoring Dr Kumar’s sexual issues.

    I will also want to check whether his mistress and mother ofhis illegitimate child Alicia was on hospital payroll while she was working not for the hospital but for him only as his office manager, and her sister Bertha as his billing person.

    • Please let’s have a little respect for people’s privacy. We don’t need to engage in gossip or name names. Even if Dr Kumar has 12 “illegitimate” children, it has nothing to do with the TRMC or the state medical boards.
      If Kumar is guilty of sexual harassment, then bring a complaint to the medical board of CA.
      Otherwise, let’s not be petty. Let’s respect and protect people’s families.

  27. I understand that HCCA has a management contract with Southern Inyo. They are gettong paid to manage that hospital. I am not aware that Tulare gets any benefit from this relationship. However HCCA emplyees are being used to benefit Southern Inyo. They have been providing recruitment services to southern Inyo, management and supervisory services, even maintenance. They are HCCA employees so i guess that is reasonable, but if they have been billing TRMC for those employees time and paying travel and other expenses with TRMC funds, then it seems to me they have been commiting fraud and overcharging Tulare for labor costs that have nothing to do with running the Tulare Hospital. HCCA gets the money but TRMC pays the costs. What a racket.

  28. Employees were also used to make phone calls and other campaign activities for measure I and for Dr Parmod Kumar’s recall election. Samantha Bland ran this part of campaign.

    I believe both are not HCCA/Hospital operations.

    Some employees who were reluctant were fired or disciplined in other ways.

    We dont want to name names but we do want to check out if any of Dr Kumar or Dr Parul Gupta (his wife) office staff was paid by HCCA/hospital.

    I know a few years back Dr Tina Paul was hired as assistant to Dr Parul Gupta and was partially paid by the hospital.

  29. I used to work in Tulare but left when Benny was given the contract. Nurses in ER were quite upset about it and shared with me their opinion about him. Now, all of that has come to be true.

    Once Benny is gone, I will be willing to come back and work there.

    I will be willing to defer payments from hospital to me for 1 year or until hospital gets on better financial health – whichever comes sooner.

    I cannot speak for everyone but if many doctors are willing to defer payments like this, I think it will be a meaningful help.

    In any case, having better patient safety & quality of care is far more important issue for me than having a new tower. With Benny’s narrow focus on money makes it impossible to have either of these. Current level of safety & quality is unacceptable to me and I will not work at such place even if you pay me 10 times my usual salary. Working at such place exposes me to very high liability risk – we saw that with Dr Zulim’s situation. No amount of money is worth such risk.

    Then there is issue of ethics – Is it ethical for me to send my patients to Tulare hospital knowing of their poor safety & quality record?

  30. I heard that!
    The loans are coming from his loan company that he runs out of his home. He is charging 24% interest. Dr… said or some outrageous amount that is just below the highest you can charge. So he would be paying himself with his own loan and getting that interest. Heard that 2 months ago.
    Can he legally do that?

  31. Chapter 9 bankruptcy would i believe allow the hospital to discharge some of the uncollatorallized debts. Hopefully that would include any debts made by Benzeevi himself as well as to get out from under the threat of a large termination fee HCCA has been crowing the district would owe it. How ironic that their best bet to get the money they say the district would owe them is to make the hospital as profitable as they have been saying it is.

  32. It’s not only the hospital. The clinics (hillman,west, earlymart, and pavilion) have been affected they just took their drinking water and the supervisors knew all about it without giving them any info. They saw the water guy come take the gallons. What are they going to drink. Medical supplies too they are taking them to the hospital because they can’t afford to pay the bills. They are low on cavy wipes (what they use to clean any rooms before and after each patient). They are dirty people. The supervisors are too busy flirting with staff. This is ridiculous!!!!!

  33. Yes, we all got screwed by HCCA, but lets not keep trying to place blame. We have to move forward in order to succeed. We can sit here and argue about who did what and when, but that does nothing to save our hospital. We need solutions, we need to garner support, and we need to pull up our boot straps. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. We’ve been arguing and arguing but presenting no solutions, or even attempting to move forward. Let’s stop the insanity.

  34. Tony Maldonado,
    was a Board meeting held yesterday Sept 4? Do you have any audio or video?
    Great reporting by the way. Thank you.

  35. Think about this folks.

    If a bigger corporate entity like Adventist, Dignity, Kaiser comes in, here is where it will get interesting:

    1. They would be glad to “manage the hoapital”, and take in current employees for about a year.

    2. Then they are going to want the “the whole thing”. This includes buying up the remainder of hoapital, because they are for profit, and thus eliminating the Board because you can’t collect taxes on a for profit.

    While I am an employee, and stability is key here, the Board and City taxpayers need to see what could be potential here. You could lose your rights as citizens if this comes about. I believe each community member and Board member is essential to finding solutions to get this fixed. I just would hate to see the community lose their voice down the road. You all have fought hard for proper peraons to represent on the Board.

  36. I heard the same thing..
    According to my friend, crooked Benny called a meeting and told the employees that he did not know when the board was going to fund him to pay the employees?

    So he said he will pay as money comes in starting with the lower wage employees working up – same as last time. He also said he was thinking of temporarily shutting down the hospital. Out of around 100 employees at the meeting, tsome 30ish walked out with a [email protected]#K Y*& to crooked Benny. And they were not low level wage employees.

    I understand the guy is losing it now – mentally- as he also said he has not slept in 3 days.

    He continues to claim the board has the information for his loans….

    This guy is cracking up and the hospital employees need HELP!!

  37. If this is true I for one will be filing a complaint against HCCA with the state over unpaid wages. HCCA may also decide to file for bankruptcy though Chapter 9 would not be available to them. But if they do, I sure hope the private jet is in HCCAs name.

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