Preliminary results from the Tulare Regional Medical Center bond election have the property tax losing by 66% to 33%.
Measure I was a $55 million bond measure intended to finish construction of the beleagured hospital’s expansion project.
While the Tulare County Registrar’s Office will continue to count ballots postmarked before August 30, and the final vote will not be certified for 30 days, it seems unlikely that the totals would entirely reverse, which would be required for the bond to pass.
Measure I’s fate seems to mirror that of the Visalia measure for the Kaweah Delta Medical Center, which failed at 57% to 42%.
The ballot measure stated funds would be used to “pay for the District’s capital improvement projects that includes completion of Tower One, including earthquake compliant expanded Emergency Department space, labor and delivery suites, and refinancing outstanding debt related to construction, shall the Tulare Local Healthcare District issue $55,000,000 in bonds, with 100% of the bond proceeds being used for construction-related costs and with no bond proceeds being used for hospital administrative costs or to refinance any debt supporting hospital operational costs[.]”
Measure I opponents state the overwhelming results are proof that larger changes are needed.
“The Citizens of Hospital Accountability believe that people of our District Hospital, with their vote, have sent a clear message of their desire to have an accountable and transparent District Board. While we celebrate our hard work in getting our message out about the issues facing our District, we still have much work to do,” the group stated.
“We understand the divisive nature of the campaign and although we will work to bring the community back together, we also believe that it is time to take back our public hospital. Transparency and accountability will continue to be our main focus. The next step is to replace the current Board, with new Board members who will insist on accounting for the past discrepancies, create an independent Board, and come up with a transparent plan to complete the construction and move toward improvement of the quality of care this hospital once had. We ask every District citizen to support the election of Board candidates Kevin Northcraft and Michael Jamaica.”
Dr. Benny Benzeevi, CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, the company contracted to run the Tulare Regional Medical Center, stated that HCCA remains committed to its core mission.
“We are grateful to have had such a focused and dedicated team in this campaign. We are very proud of the tireless hours our many volunteers – both young and old — worked to reach out to the residents of our healthcare district and inform them of the options that are available,” Benzeevi said. “We respect the direction the community has chosen and will work hard to bring everybody together to decide on next steps. HCCA remains committed to delivering an integrated healthcare system that will meaningfully improve the quality of healthcare in our community.”