More Of The Same for Tulare Healthcare District – For Now

The status quo remains on the Tulare Local Healthcare District’s Board of Directors after a brief hearing Friday morning, though arguments will continue Monday.

That means that Richard Torrez, a member of the board, and Bruce Greene, an attorney representing Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, have not been forced to recognize Senovia Gutierrez as a seated member of the board.

It also means that officials with Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) could continue to seek — or even finalize — a loan on behalf of the district.

The Tulare County District Attorney’s office had sought to force Torrez and Greene to recognize Gutierrez, and attorneys for the district had joined the action and hoped for a temporary restraining order to stop HCCA from executing any loan or entering into any contracts without the approval of the board.

Attorneys for the healthcare district also hoped to force HCCA to turn over large amounts of financial documents, including financial statements, balance sheets, payroll reports, vendor contracts, accounts payable and receivable reports, and other financial data regarding the hospital to the district.

HCCA doesn’t presently provide such detailed information publicly, though it is provided at the company’s other managed hospital, the Southern Inyo Hospital in Lone Pine.

After arguments from each side, the Hon. Judge Melinda Reed stated that she couldn’t reach a decision without reading objections filed by Robert Welsh, an attorney with BakerHostetler representing Torrez and Greene.

Welsh came to court Friday morning with those objections, which had not been previously provided to the court; Reed stated she had not had a chance to read them yet.

Lawyers with the district attorney’s office, the healthcare district, and representing Gutierrez all told Reed that time is of the essence in forcing the recognition of Gutierrez.

“The district is in crisis,” Deputy District Attorney Trevor Holly said. “They don’t have a functioning board of directors.”

“We believe she became a board member the day she took the oath of office,” he continued.

Mandy Jeffcoach, an attorney for the district, stated that the board has been unable to act on their concerns regarding financial and other matters at the hospital. Their hands have been tied by HCCA, she stated, and the company will not recognize any of their actions until Gutierrez is declared a board member.

She also noted a provision of the Management Services Agreement, signed by Torrez and members of the prior board, that states members of the board can’t enter the hospital without HCCA’s express permission.

Welsh stated that the matter was best left to the next hospital board meeting on September 27, when he stated the plan is to recognize Gutierrez, though Holly stated there is no guarantee another roadblock won’t appear that would delay her recognition even further.

He also stated that Greene sought independent legal counsel that backed up his interpretation of Elections Code 15400, the statute which has been cited as the reason that he, Torrez, and Healthcare Conglomerate Associates don’t consider Gutierrez a board member, even though she was elected and sworn in — and survived a recount.

“It seems clear the act is ministerial and has not been done,” Reed stated.

“[Greene and Torrez] have acted reasonably in their understanding of the law,” Welsh replied.

He also stated that the district attorney’s lawsuit had been “hijacked” in pursuit of other goals, before Reed cut him off.

Jeffcoach later stressed that even if Reed were to continue arguments to Monday, HCCA could potentially finalize a loan today unless some form of action was taken, asking for an interim order to prevent the company from seeking out any financing on behalf of the district.

Lawyers representing the Tulare Local Healthcare District claim they’ve received confirmation that the company continues to seek a loan, potentially up to $22m, Jeffcoach stated. She claims she received confirmation that the company continues to seek financing.

Welsh stated unequivocally that he objected to any such order; and that while he did not know whether the company was seeking any loans, it would prevent them from responding to potential financial issues as they arise.

Continued arguments will be heard Monday morning at 8:30am in Department 1 of the Tulare County Superior Court.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

21 thoughts on “More Of The Same for Tulare Healthcare District – For Now

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  1. I was there, it was fiasco, Mr Welch from Baker Hosteler was over 1 hour late, I am upset with Judge Reed, she could have made judgement on election results and temporary on the order to not allow HCCA to go thru with loan. No vote was done for Mike and Kevin. He non judgement chould be the final straw that broke TRMC’s back

  2. I wonder if HCCA/Benzeevi made a sizeable donation to Judge Reed’s own election? There is no feasible rationale for Reed’s ruling today unless she is lacking in simple common sense.

  3. Just a little info: as a insider letting public know. Housekeeping, maint., food service were once again outsourced last week. The companies were not getting paid. So, HCCA hired them as on Monday. The linens company has not been paid so all linens were pulled, scrubs were pulled out. and the cafeteria has been closed only serving patients for 2 weeks. We are circling the drain people. And they want a loan that they can never pay back. And probably abuse anyway. What’s wrong with our local laws and the people that need to enforce them? How much has to happen before this is put to rest. HCCA is burning this community hospital

  4. It’s hard to get justice in Tulare county. Benzeevi has been developing his network of powerful friends over last few yrs by spending the Public ( Hospital District) money . Hiring a Superior court judge ‘s wife or Tulare Councilwoman ‘s daughter or making big donations to DA , Sheriff , Devin Mathis and others was all planned to control the decision makers That’s the reason why the MEC trial has been dragging for months and now no decision on seating a dually elected and sworn in board member can be explained. Makes one lose any trust in the system that appears corrupt and broken !

    • Perhaps a better headline would be “More Shame From Tulare County Court…..People’s Justice Denied Once Again!” It appears that HCCA/Benzeevi just may be able to “purchase” what he wants!

  5. My question is WHY ARE THE CURRENT EMPLOYEES STILL THERE?? Everyone of them need to walk out, jobs can be found anywhere.. Then the hospital would have to close!

  6. With regard to Judge Reed, she is *very* deliberate and, therefore, wants to truly familiarize herself with the matters at hand. I don’t see how you can fault her for that.

    • If she has not been following what has been going on at TRMC then she has been living on another planet. EVERYONE who reads newspapers in Tulare County has truly familiarized themselves with the matters at hand. She had ample time “prior” to this last court hearing to bring herself up to speed on all the whys and wherefores.

      • I agree with Barbara. Tulare County is the laughing stock of the state of california and probably the southwest part of the United States. Any working person googles Tulare and this comes up everytime. This is one reason we can’t keep good physicians in the community. They all go to Visalia 10 minutes away. And Kumar has chased more than one Doctor out of town.

        • And there are several good Docs in town but any doctor knows you can’t throw your weight around if you don’t have the CEO of the hospital

        • There must be two Dave’s posting. This Dave believes Judge Reed is so wrong in her decision that it defies logic. Some day we may learn the whole story. in the meantime Benzeevi may own our hospital. Fight on good people. We haven’t lost yet.

  7. For those who believe the judge to be wrong, should you have legal standing, your attorney or attorneys certainly have the option to appeal the decision. If you are so sure of your position, then by all means go for it! If not, you are just Monday morning quarterbacks. To Barbara, you’ll have to do better than the idol threat of one vote. Ms. Reed has been a judge in our superior court for a rather long time. You’ll have to convince a goodly number of voters to unseat her. Again, if you feel that strongly, go for it.

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