TLHCD’s Wilbourn Resigns, Meeting Cancelled – Then Held in Evolutions Lobby

Michael Jamaica, Senovia Gutierrez and Kevin Northcraft speak at Wednesday’s TLHCD Board Meeting. Joseph Oldenbourg/Valley Voice

An issue of competing agendas for Tulare’s hospital meeting cleared itself up Wednesday, when officials with Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) abruptly cancelled Wednesday’s scheduled regular meeting. But one was still held anyway — by Kevin Northcraft, Mike Jamaica, and Senovia Gutierrez.

Linda Wilbourn and Richard Torrez were absent again — because Wilbourn had resigned and Torrez was unable to attend. A notice posted at the Evolutions gym stated that because of Wilbourn’s resignation and Torrez’s inability to attend, the meeting would be cancelled for lack of a quorum.

In a letter posted outside Evolutions, Wilbourn stated she was resigning her post effective Wednesday at noon. The letter was addressed to Dr. Benny Benzeevi, CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, and Bruce Greene, attorney for HCCA.

Northcraft stated that didn’t matter — the meeting would be held in Evolutions’ parking lot, if it came down to it, because a majority of the board was there.

Kevin Northcraft and his wife, Chris Northcraft, speak to a security guard at the Evolutions Gym on Wednesday. Tony Maldonado/Valley Voice

He stated he didn’t receive notice of the resignation and cancellation until 3:15pm, while Jamaica said he received no notice at all. Outside legal counsel didn’t appear to receive any notice either: Carlo Coppo, a Carlsbad-based attorney representing the district in multiple lawsuits, was present as well.

A notice of the meeting’s cancellation was posted on HCCA’s website at 3:27pm.

“I’m still trying to absorb everything,” Jamaica said. “We had some of our insurance attorneys that came down from down south to attend this meeting and be in the closed session, and no one informed them about it until they got here, like the rest of us.”

“[I got] no notification at all, other than coming here and reading about it,” he said.

One thing was clear — the meeting would not be held in the conference room of Evolutions. As more citizens filed into the Evolutions lobby, multiple officers from the Tulare Police Department appeared in the gym and could be seen inside talking to security officers and board members before the meeting began, though no arrests were made.

Ultimately, Northcraft, Gutierrez and Jamaica stood in front of a half-wall at Evolutions, limited to five minutes’ total to hold their public meeting session.

No action was taken on the public session items. Instead, Northcraft addressed the public and stated that the true meat of the meeting would be in closed session — where the board would address multiple lawsuits the district is facing.

“We have about five minutes to conduct a brief meeting,” Northcraft said. “The most important part of the night’s meeting is in closed session, so we’re working with every attorney who represents the hospital.”

Northcraft stated a security guard gave him the five minute deadline.

Northcraft announced Wilbourn’s resignation to cheers from the crowd, stating that the board will start the application process for a replacement to take the rest of her term.

He stated that the group had been “locked out” of the hospital’s facilities, and that the closed session could not take place at the hospital’s administration building as planned. Instead, the closed session was held at the Tulare Masonic Lodge.

No officials from Healthcare Conglomerate Associates were available at the meeting, which was slated to include discussion of the hospital’s finances and upcoming budget.

New Lawsuit Filed

Absent from both agendas was a lawsuit recently filed by Maxim Healthcare Services against the hospital.

The suit, filed against “Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, LLC d/b/a Tulare Regional Medical Center,” claims that the company is owed $160,645.35 for services rendered to the hospital, joining Graham Prewitt and Specialty Laboratories, Inc. in those seeking payment.

The three suits total $299,305.21 in alleged debts.

The suit was the same previously mentioned by Visalia attorney Michael Lampe at the board’s August 9 meeting.

Wilbourn’s Resignation

In her resignation, Wilbourn defended her voting record from criticism.

“When I was elected as Zone 5 Director, my only goal and agenda was to further the completion of the new tower project to bring our hospital into California state earthquake compliance before the 2030 state deadline,” Wilbourn wrote. “To my mind the every penny spent on or in the hospital hinges on the district finishing that tower. The very existence of the hospital is tied to the tower completion.”

“Every day since I was elected to this board, I have worked towards that goal. Since November 2016, the board makeup has significantly changed their direction and agenda. My goals do not seem to mesh with theirs any longer. The completion of the Tower has now taken a back seat to personal agendas and egos,” Wilbourn wrote.

Wilbourn stated she would be moving out of her zone by year’s end, and that “it would be best if I leave the Board at this time.”

“Let it be known to all that EVERY and I repeat EVERY vote I have cast in both open and closed session have what I feel has been best for Tulare Regional Medical Center, the employees of that hospital and for all the people of Tulare Local Healthcare District,” Wilbourn wrote. “My votes have never been influenced by others, but what I felt were the best for TRMC.”

She stated that the unique partnership between HCCA and the District could serve as a model for district hospitals throughout the nation, “if everyone opens their minds and starts thinking out of the box.”

Wilbourn stated that she would continue to support the hospital and the Tulare Hospital Foundation, and also gave her best to Greene as well.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

43 thoughts on “TLHCD’s Wilbourn Resigns, Meeting Cancelled – Then Held in Evolutions Lobby

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  1. Outrageous, outrageous, outrageous behavior by this atrocious incompetent thief Benny Benzeevi. Locking out the board members. Not facing the citizens. The board needs to pass a resolution to remove Benzeevi NOW!

  2. How can HCCA legally keep our elected Board of Directors locked out? Managing a hospital does not mean they own the hospital……or does it???

  3. Suddenly Torrez is not finding the time to attend board meetings. The COWARD abdicated his duty long time ago.
    Suddenly Wilbourn resigns at the last minute in the middle of this critical junction. Every decision she made was with the thought of completing The Tower. Really? Really?! So how come the tower has been sitting there in just the same way as when Benny the thief Benzeevi took over. She is an embarrassment to the people of Tulare.

  4. Citizens accountability group, you guys created this mess. What an embarrassment for Tulare and thanks to some of you we might not have an hospital after all. This was never about the people but jelousy and anger🖓

    • Really? No the accountability group wants just that .. accountability and while you sit here and blame this group which I endorse and support .. you are being ripped off of your taxes on an hourly basis…. have you worked along side with benny while he was on duty as a dr with patients to care for ? I have and he’s a horrible lazy dr who just wants money for doing nothing he had horriabke stats and left patients waiting for hours while they got test ordered that didn’t need to be ordered he’s only about money and that’s money that comes in his pocket not what’s best for the patient .. I can say this as I worked along side of him for a few years ….

    • You are absolutely out of your mind Mickey. You are a person that hasen’t paid attention in the years since Bennie took over. Only people makeing money are Bennie and Kumar. Get real please.

    • Benzeeevi, Kumar, Bruce Greene and an idiotic board of Bell, Gadke, Torrez and Avitia that selected an alignment partner with no experience created this mess. Along with the support of the uneducated, vocal community members that praised Benzeevi as the second coming.

      That is who you can thank for all of this. The citizens group just stepped in and stopped the flow of money to this greed infested machine. You sound like the type that believes we should have just given the $55 million bond so the tower would have been finished which never would have happened because they would have just burned it up in operational costs, bloated management fees and Kumar’s clinic domination dreams.

      Open your eyes to facts in this matter. Benzeevi has been lying this entire time about his great performance. All the while the place is in a shambles, the books have been being cooked and you are probably one of the employee’s that think’s your loyalty to Benzeevi is going to somehow benefit you. In the beginning people felt sorry for the employee’s but now people are beginning to wonder why the employee’s that have witnessed what has gone on say nothing and remain blindly loyal to this idiot of a leader.

  5. I do not understand how he can get away with this! I know his time has to be running out! We have to keep fighting. Thank you everyone that has worked hard and continues to on getting our new board.

  6. Just because Mickey likes HCCA, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to. Just as of today 3 vendors have filed lawsuits totaling over 299,000.00 for unpaid services. Let me guess Mickey, that is everyone else fault also. The Benny Circus has had it last show, there are new sheriffs in town and HCCA is going down.

    • ^For sure! He’s his only friend. “Read on Benny, you worthless crook!!! The whole town wants you gone! Buh-bye.”

  7. Puppets (Linda, Torrez, Benny) do not have balls to face the public in absence of the puppet master (Parmod Kumar)

    Shame on all of them.

  8. Meanwhile as Bennny hangs on and collects his millions the hospital and its employees suffer. Bills are going unpaid, lawsuits keep piling up and lives are at risk. I wonder if Benny’s other company Medflow, his cronies kumar and Germany are getting paid????

  9. I see some strong arm tactics here. Wonder if Kumar is moving to the district just vacated. Who called the police? As usual lots of questions and no answers. Thumbs up to the citizens who are working so hard for taking back the hospital!

  10. HOW CAN LINDA JUSTIFY HER WORDS IN HER RESIGNATION LETTER!
    HCCA IS PLAYING A SHELL GAME. THEY HAVE LOANED SOUTHERN INYO OUR MONEY YET THEY LET VENDORS GO UNPAID.
    I DON’T CARE THAT THEY MADE OVER $17,000 IN INTEREST, THAT CONTRACT STATED THAT NO MONEY FROM THLHCD WOULD BE USED BY ANOTHER MANAGED HOSPITAL (AKA) SOUTHERN INYO HOSPITAL.
    WHAT LINDA THOUGHT SHE WAS READING THAT FEB OR MARCH MEETING WAS AN INCREASE IN THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT. SHE WAS A LITTLE MIFFED ON THAT ONE.
    REMEMBER SHE ALSO SAT ON THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE SO SHE KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON FROM THE BEGINNING. SHE KNEW MONEY WAS BEING MISMANAGED BUT DID NOTHING TO STOP IT AS DID THE REST OF THAT COMMITTEE. ONLY ALBERTO STARTING ASKING QUESTIONS THAT STARTED THE HOUSE OF CARDS TO FALL.

    • It is my understanding that he Bond Oversght committee could not get any information on the expenditure of bond monies. It is reported that Kumar and Bolouki and later Benzeevi would give very positive financial reports but never any written accounting of expenditures. Reportedly, at one time, Kumar and Bolouki presented plans for a second and claimed they had done such a great job managing the bond money that they could finance the second tower,

  11. I’ll say again; Hospital debt is mounting, patient count is dropping, employee confidence is waning, Benzeevi is still laughing. Let it go people! I spoke to a long time Tulare doctor who is aware of the hospital financial situation, and states; “the hospital can’t survive with the current debt load, let it go bankrupt wait two or three years then try it again”. Let Benzeevi have it people! he is all about money, when that dries up he’ll run! count on it!

    • The problem with his “having it” with his greedy nature is that it is a death trap and many people don’t understand that. What needs to happen is that he has to payback what he has pilfered from the community. We read so many people aren’t getting paid and haven’t been paid for his entire time there and he has been passing that off as great performance. Wonder if Kumar, Gupta, and Medflow (Benzeevi’s ER management fee) have been paid regularly?

      Bankruptcy would be the best thing for it because Benzeevi s greed will come to light and all those creditors are going to get pennies on the dollar. He is not going to get it, quite the opposite. Benzeevi ought to be thinking about how to avoid jail time. All of those unpaid security guards aren’t going to be able to protect him from this.

  12. Bankruptcy is the last chapter in the book that Kumar & Benny co-wrote & that is titled “101 ways to steal public money legally”

    Why can the board not write a letter to FBI asking them to investigate? Send a CC to every congressmen in country. I am sure someone will find it of interest to them. What if we get this letter signed by 10000 people?

    What if we start a direct petition to the POTUS? I heard POTUS office is required to take an action once there are 25000 action on the petition. Getting that many with online websites these days is not impossible at all.

    • We don’t need the congress or the POTUS. We need the board to terminate the crook Benzeevi now. His strategy is obviously to not allow and not attend any more board meetings.
      We need to fire him now. The recall election was more than a month ago. There is no point in delaying things longer. The scumbag Benzeevi needs to be terminated now.

  13. Linda Wilbourn, you destroyed our hospital and then you sneak away like the scoundrel that you are.
    Was it too hard for you to show up for one last meeting and announce your resignation in person? But your master, scumbag Benzeevi, gave you different orders. Did you hear the loud cheers from citizens of Tulare when they heard about your resignation?

  14. Doesn’t the HCCA/hospital contract give them a BIG payout if they get fired or kicked out? Maybe that’s their plan. Wonder if Linda will remove her vending machines from the hospital and Evolutions?

  15. I will tell you that employees are working as usual staying out of the mess and just doing their jobs.

    There is more mouting debt by HCCA everyday like the National Debt. Need a scoreboard to post out front.

    However, while Bankruptcy is an option, I believe everyone has an opportuntiy to come together, even if its not at Evolutions, and figure this out. Fill the vacated position, roll up the sleeves and find some common ground. Not only are employees doing what is necessary to take care of patients, but employees have families to support.

    I will say that while the road has a fork in it, which way will all of us come together to make this right? HCCA needs to go, we know this. But while all the fighting continues, maybe expend that energy in a town hall style event and come up with ways for solutions. We all have a choice and maybe a solution.

    I would be more than happy to assist as an employee. I do have thoughts, but im only one person. If more people could be present to do this, im sure there is a place where this could happen. It may take more than 1 meeting, but im sure ALL TULARE CITIZENS would be able to find time to make their voices heard and be positive in how we find ways to fix the issues.

    When you step up to the plate is when you make a difference.

  16. Benzeevi is saying that Senovia has yet not been certified/seated and that there are currently not enough board members to ever achieve a quorum until Linda’s seat is filled. So he will just delay things on and on.
    Meanwhile, he calls the Tulare police dept on the citizens of Tulare, the very people whom he is supposed to serve.
    We are screwed if we fire him, or if we keep him. However the former is the much lesser of the two evils.

  17. Where is the other board member Mr Torrez? Is he planning to say or do something, or ever show up to a board meeting again? His master Benny Benzeevi must have Torrez on a very tight leash.

  18. I am so proud to be a citizen of Tulare. Benny and Kumar have tried to manipulate the media, bully opponents and buy city officials through massive campaign contributions. These tactics have worked well against third world peoples and even in several communities in U. S. (see for example the tragedy of the city of Bell, CA and Moreno Valley , Ca). The proud example of Tulare should be used in High School citizenship classes (assuming “Citizenship” is still taught in our schools.)

  19. Some how or another the City of Tulare and/or it’s citizens should bring a lawsuit against HCCA/Benzeevi for deliberately obstructing the hospital’s Board of Directors ability to oversee the hospital business that they were duly elected to do. HCCA does not have the legal authority to lock out this current sitting Board of Directors. HCCA does not have the legal authority to override voters just because Benzeevi, Torrez, or Wilbourn object to the person who actually won the election. The Board of Directors who approved the hiring of HCCA and signed their contract should hide their heads in shame. They signed away the City’s hospital to a corporate raider who specializes in the oldest con game around…..a shell game.

  20. Now Is The Time

    Now that the recent recall election for the Tulare Regional Medical Center Board of Directors is behind us, it is time that we set aside the political division we have experienced over the last year and a half and move forward together as One Tulare to save our hospital and complete the medical tower.

    On November 8th of last year and again July 11th of this year, Tulare voters made it clear that we no longer want business as usual and that we need a new board of directors with a new vision, dedication to transparency and accountability and a commitment to doing the right thing for the patients and tax payers of Tulare.

    Although some find it difficult to let go of the past and see the new reality, the focus of the new board majority must remain clear and steadfast. And that is to provide the leadership we have sorely needed and the one which hundreds of residents have organized and fought for.

    While the new majority works to get accustomed to their new leadership role and begins the monumental task of peeling back the layers of years of failed leadership, we must come together as a community to support them and help with the challenge of completing the medical tower.

    There is no doubt this will be a big challenge for the board, our city and its residents. However, I wholeheartedly believe that we can rise to the occasion. And I am not alone to think this.

    Tulare has amazing people and leaders that can come together when needed and solve anything. Now is the time that we must step up to the plate and help on this one issue, completing the medical tower.

    Over the next few weeks I will speak with the new board of directors on the idea of establishing a Blue Ribbon Task Force whose one and only purpose will be to work with them to complete the medical tower.

    In order, for the hospital to move forward this has to be a priority. The board will have its hands full with working to straighten out the mess created at the hospital and work to keep it from sinking any further.

    I strongly believe that we have the talent, experience and know how among us to help make it happen through the work of the Task Force. I believe in our city and the residents I am honored to represent.

    There is no need to advocate for another health care facility to come to Tulare. We must work together to assure that the one we have succeeds. Real leadership comes from ones willingness to be involved and willingness to roll up ones sleeves and make things happen.

    Commentating from the sidelines and criticizing those who want to make things better is not real leadership. It’s a distraction that we don’t need. There is too much at stake for pettiness.

    Finally, I would like to invite my fellow elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to join with me and the many concerned Tulareans throughout the city to meet and discuss how we can all work together to assure Tulare has a first class hospital for generations to come.

    If you agree with me that our local elected officials should work together, take a moment to call them and ask them to join us in the effort to save our hospital. It will only take a few minutes but your call will make a difference.

    JOSE SIGALA
    COUNCILMEMBER – CITY OF TULARE, DISTRICT 1

    • Our first priority must be to terminate Benzeevi. He can not be entrusted with the millions it will take to complete the tower. Simultaneously, we have to find an organization with an established pristine record for running health facilities.

    • Your time would be better spent on working to get the contract for HCCA terminated. I would rather have Kaweah Delta buy out the hospital than let HCCA/Benzeevi remain. You cannot fix or even begin to work with an entity that is rotten to the core, which is what HCCA/Benzeevi is……rotten to the core!

  21. With all due respect, Jose, your approach is stupid.

    Tower is a non issue for another 13 years.
    Tower does not provide care. Staff & doctors do. Yes, it helps to have better machine & equipment but all that is least of out concern at this time.

    There is no way you can gather water in a pot that has base missing.
    There is no way you can get hospital in sound financial position while having a thief in control. If you think you can, your IQ is less than room temperature – in Celsius.

    You are probably trying to do good for the community and think that getting everyone together is what is always a good idea in politics.
    No, Jose, you dont have to bring everyone together all the time. If you mix resins with turd, you get turd, not resins.
    What you need is to think what is the right thing to do and work in that direction. It is okay to keep quiet if you cannot figure out what is the right direction.
    But if you think a thief can lead a hospital to financial stability, you better shut up. You have a serious problem about understanding money. You should not even manage your own bank account & credit card if you have yet not seen their con.

    • Actually I appreciated what Mr. Sigala said for the most part. He is a good and decent man who sets a high bar for his fellow city council members to aim for. We need more men of his caliber on our city council. And we the citizens of Tulare can work together to save our hospital from HCCA/Benzeevi but we first must get rid of HCCA/Benzeevi. No matter the outcome in the end, we must terminate this one-sided contract with HCCA/Benzeevi. Stay strong people, keep up the resistance.

  22. Mr Sigala is a Union organizer, that will be the next mess. He is not diplomatic as evident at the July Board meeting where he squared off with hard working staff. It seems everyone in Tulare has ulterior motives which is one of the reasons nothing gets done, just look at the downtown district, empty buildings, look at the half finished Tower, geez, when will this City wake up.

    • So I guess YOUR ulterior motive would be simply to trash talk Mr. Sigala. I don’t know about his being a Union organizer, not that there is anything wrong with that….if it wasn’t for the Unions there would have been no middle class and if you aren’t too biased to notice money hungry corporations gained enough momentum to make “Union” a dirty word our middle class has been slowly declining. But enough of that…..it sounds like you may well be a supporter of HCCA/Benzeevi attempting to do their dirty work by muddying up the waters…..it ain’t gonna work!

  23. With all due respect, so far our new board has not achieved anything. The Board has not terminated Benzeevi, who has in turn locked them out and kicked them out of the Evolutions.
    Benzeevi continues to disregard the Board and the citizens of Tulare, and has gotten away with it so far. It’s time for action. We need The Board to DO something.

  24. I was raised to believe that THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was a nation of LAWS not MEN.

    1. If a man violates the law, there is are constitutional processes under the law where he can be charged, and in the presence of evidence, convicted and punished.

    2. In the America I grew up in, a man was innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers.

    3. Under the law, a contract between two entities where there is a meeting of the minds and both agree is binding.

    I do not have a “Side” in this issue except, as a man diagnosed with stage four cancer a few months ago, I value quality health care and those who provide it. Every day I wake up I am thankful for the not only to the providers , staff but also to those administrators and public officials who kept the doors open until I was in desperate need of life-extending care.

    I fear for myself, my neighbors and my family when I see what is happening to Tulare, California, USA. The prejudice, racism and mob mentality is reminiscent of the lynch mobs in the deep south, the riots in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and more recently the mob violence in Charlottesville Virginia. The name calling is ridiculous and not becoming of our heritage as a nation.

    In the USA I grew up in, we were taught that is was impolite and un American to make disparaging comments about anyone referencing their nationality or country of origin. (BTW, if you are dying, you don’t care what color or nationality the hands are that save your life… Just saying.)

    No health care professional in their right mind would come to help this hospital when they see how TULARE’s citizens act and treat an agreement freely made between their duly elected officials and health care professionals. Especially the total lack of respect for dignity and the rule of law.

    We will NEVER get out of this “hole” until BOTH sides stop throwing dirt back in as fast as anyone can dig.

    I SAY, THROW THE BUM OUT AND READY THE GALLOWS!!

    The citizens of Tulare are etitled to their constitutional rights!!!

    If Mr. Benzeevi (or anyone else involved), is guilty of a crime, lets throw the book at him , sue him for all he is worth (and ever will make) and put him UNDER THE JAIL. (Calling someone “crook” doesn’t make them a crook any more than calling on my hamburger make them a big Mac.)

    Innocent until proven guilty MUST mean something even when all the circumstances make point two guilt.

    We are Americans we obey the law. In America we are all equal under the law.

    I’m afraid the prejudice (prejudging) and mob mentality has passed the point of no return. I have notice that, anyone who expresses an opinion, contrary to those in favor of a ”lynching,” are torn to shreds here.

    My greatest fear is that, at the end, after the name calling, legal manipulation, suits and counter suits, are over Tulare will end up with a huge empty building with an unfinished tower, and people like me, who depend on the quality healthcare, will die.

    It’s time for the “Suicide Bombers” to stop and think about what they’re destroying. It is time for a truce and the rule of law.

    My grandparents did not escape the oppression of Russia in the dark of night to come to a USA filled with anger, hate and bigotry. They believed that here, unlike where they came from, the law would protect them and their family. Thank God, my parents prospered and grew up to build a company that serves nationwide. I have done very well… I only wish the same for my grandchildren after I’m gone.

    • Despite what you say, it is not ok for Benny to lock out the legally elected Board directors. It is also VERY VERY WRONG for Benzeevi to have called the police on ordinary peaceful decent citizens of Tulare who had shown up to attend a meeting.
      This has nothing to do with lynching or mob mentality. We are paying a man several millions of dollar a year, and he has proven to be an incompetent and atrocious CEO. Tower has not been finished. People dying due to lack of OR staff. A grade of F for the hospital. Specialists leaving. Law suits brought from left and right from people who are not getting paid. Instead of acting contrite and speaking with the citizens, Benny calls the police. Need I go on?
      This is not a racial issue. It is about a grossly overpaid incompetent CEO who is desperately trying to hang on.
      It’s time for our elected board to remove Benzeevi, and put a competent organization in charge.

      • Well said, you have correctly stated Tulare citizens’ issues and concerns. Unfortunately those who seek to protect HCCA/Benzeevi and keep the status quo feel they need to minimize and greatly downplay what is actually happening to our hospital. They strive to trivialize citizens of Tulare as negative naysayers. As for Pablo, I wish you all the best in your personal fight against cancer and that with God’s grace you live long and prosper.

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