Employees Unpaid, Supplies Scarce at Tulare Hospital

Healthcare Conglomerate Associates CEO Benny Benzeevi gives a presentation to the board and public at the October 26 Tulare Local Healthcare District meeting. Tony Maldonado/Valley Voice

More than 400 employees of the Tulare Local Health Care District did not receive their scheduled paychecks today, and those who have not walked out are scrounging for supplies to continue treating patients in their charge.

Only 95 checks, all written to the District’s lowest-paid employees, were delivered on Thursday, September 28. The rest will be paid as money becomes available.

Reliable sources say patients are being transferred from Tulare Regional Medical Center to other care facilities, and the emergency department has been described as a “ghost town.” Only 18 patients remain at the Center, 14 post-operative patients and four in the ICU.

 

Hospital Staying Open

Dr. Yorai “Benny” Benzeevi, CEO of the embattled company managing Tulare Regional Medical Center and the District’s other facilities — Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) — said the severity of the situation is “mounting by the hour” as he scrambles to find funds to continue operations. The hospital, he said, is not closing its doors.

“We have contingency plans for everything,” Benzeevi said.

He also denied patients were being moved to other care facilities.

“We’re not currently shipping patients out the door,” he said.

Benzeevi said the hospital will continue to operate, while others say a bare-bones staff is all that remains. Patient services continue, he said, and will as long as conditions allow.

“We’ll only (stop providing care) if a certain department is understaffed or doesn’t have the supplies,” he said. “Patient safety is concern one through 10.”

 

Benzeevi Delivers Ultimatum

At a meeting Wednesday, September 27, less than 24 hours before his employees went unpaid, Benzeevi vowed HCCA would no longer provide operating capital for the District. That followed a decision by the District’s Board of Directors to prevent HCCA from seeking additional loans.

“The rescission of our ability to borrow money will mean immediate consideration of plans to close the hospital,” he told the District’s board. “The choice is yours.”

The unpaid employees work for HCCA, and are not employed directly by the District.

 

Evolutions Used as Loan Collateral

The unrest at Tulare Regional comes at the same time as the discovery Benzeevi and HCCA used the District’s fitness center, Evolutions, to secure a loan on September 5. Also listed as collateral pledged to cover the new debt are the furnishings of Tulare Regional, as well as an undeveloped property adjacent to Evolutions.

The amount the collateral was used to secure is unknown.

The property and equipment were used to secure an agreement with Leasing Innovations, Inc., a Solana Beach-based company specializing in equipment leasing and rentals, as well as financing, according to the Better Business Bureau and Bloomberg.com.

Benzeevi said he has two other loans in the works, one to provide operating cash and another to provide financing to complete the stalled expansion project at Tulare Regional. Though he has not approached the Board of Directors about the two new loans, Benzeevi would be willing to work with the board in securing the loans, calling it “exactly what we need.”

 

‘Internal Disaster Preparedness’

Meanwhile, District employees report the hospital is operating on a minimal staff and enacted “internal disaster preparedness” protocols. The California Department of Public Health has been notified of the situation at Tulare Regional.

The state could shutter Tulare Regional if inspectors determine the facility can no longer provide adequate care. It could also suspend operations there until a new management group is found to take HCCA’s place.

 

New Management Company May Step In

Sources close to the District’s board say a new management company is ready to take over operations at Tulare Regional within 24 hours, if HCCA and the District part ways.

“They said, ‘The next day,’” the individual said.

Kevin Northcraft, president of the District’s board, did not respond to an interview request.

With unpaid employees walking off the job, HCCA called an emergency employee meeting in Tulare Regional’s cafeteria on the evening it failed to deliver paychecks to those same employees. A second meeting was scheduled for the morning of Friday, September 29.

This story will be updated. Publisher Joseph Oldenbourg contributed to this report.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

43 thoughts on “Employees Unpaid, Supplies Scarce at Tulare Hospital

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  1. Please do not use the hospital at this time, unless you have a death wish.
    My sympathies to the hard working staff who have not been paid by HCCA.
    We are not going to mortgage Evolutions to give more money to Benzeevi. I am sure the Board will not authorize such an action.
    It’s really time for Benzeevi, Ostrom and Germany to leave. Get the F…out of Tulare.

  2. Just told now that State is at TRMC and they have closed ER.

    Other hospitals have been notified to start expecting transfers from TRMC.

  3. So if Evolutions has already been mortgaged as collateral for a loan, where did that money go. Seems like that much collateral should bring in millions. Unless it was diverted to other uses that should make payroll for a year. Also emplyees at TRMC have been doing work for Lone Pine. Who was paying them.. Tulare or Lone Pine?

  4. I hope they kept their insurance up because I will be among the first to sue them and I am contacting Medi-cal to let them know they didn’t have signed consent to treat my husband or bill for his 30 day stay among other things.

    • There is no truth to this claim – millions of dollars to Lone Pine? nope. You have no idea what you are talking about.

        • Currently TRMC is in as a creditor for just over $3,000. Who knows what has really gone there in staff dollars, equipment and supplies.

          Plus TRMC gets a high paid CEO and CFO that spend a great deal of time at Southern Inyo instead of focusing on TRMC.

        • I just saw this post “TRMC Employee” if you truly are. I am!

          Why don’t you use your real name? Don’t you dare ever accuse me or any of the hard working staff of TRMC of killing people.

          I’ve been a nurse 12 years and dedicate my life to helping people . Not one red mark anywhere on my license with BRN or any other institution I’ve worked in.

          Freedom of speech is one thing, but the hate and accusations people say on social media is ridiculous.

          I am just ashamed of the behavior of some of you. Honestly, it’s dispicable. We are here for the community, and if you don’t like working at TRMC , then LEAVE.

  5. So source was incorrect after checking 3 others on duty.

    However, the rest was correct. Other hospitals have been notified of situation and to be prepared to accept patients in event of staff not showing up.

    Further, if employees do not show up due to no pay that that will not count as an absence.

    This management knows whats going on but refuse to answer queations. If employees goto employee morning forum, ask the queations, force them into a corner. We as employees deserve answers along with the citizens in the community.

  6. Benzeevi the thief continues to lie till the last minute. “We have contingency plans for everything”. Well, they sure don’t have any plans of paying employees, nor did they have the basic human courtesy of warning the employees ahead of time.
    Anyways, unless the ER docs are paid soon, they will not have docs to staff the ER, and without ER, hospital will not be able to stay open.
    Benzeevi, Germany and Ostrom: All three of you are liars and probably criminals. You have destroyed our community hospital.

    • If the DISTRICT isn’t bringing in revenue because there’s hardly any patients because of all the sabotage, then how can they make payroll? I’ve had people in the community tell us staff that their doctors tell them NOT to go to Tulare. It’s shameful! Unethical!

      Is the CEO of Kaweah Delta personally responsible for paying payroll out of his pocket if the Kaweah District doesn’t have $$ . NO!

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised if Benzeevi and company don’t show up for today’s morning meeting. If folks have family checked into the hospital and if it is safe for them to be transported out it would be in the patient’s best interest to do so. The sooner the better…..let this hospital close if that is what it takes to rescue it from Benzeevi/HCCA.

  8. By “We have contingency plans for everything”, Benny meant that he has his fake passport and private jet ready to depart for a non-extradition treaty country.

    I wonder if he will take Kumar and Shamie Bell and others who enabled him in his jet.

  9. We knew this was going to happen when they hired Boluki..the gossip at the time was, there going to run this in the ground, file bankruptcy and rename it Little India..
    Makes me sick that it’s taken so long to get to this point. Shame on the DA for not getting involved when they should have..

  10. We knew this was going to happen when they hired Boluki..the gossip at the time was, there going to run this in the ground, file bankruptcy and rename it Little India..
    Makes me sick that it’s taken so long

  11. It is 8:30. Employee forum is set to start. Wondering if Benny will bother showing up so he can tell more lies to the employees.

  12. This will make a good story on “The American Greed” serial on CNBC.

    Unbelievable !!

    Sad. Very sad.
    And angry.

    Benny & Kumar need to be in jail.

  13. A Voice reporter (well, me) headed out to the meeting this morning, held in the hospital’s administrative building. Employees were streaming out into the hallway; I was asked to leave and escorted out of the area (and building) by security.

    If you’re an employee and want to talk, my phone number is 559-799-4100. I’m here in Tulare until 11:30AM and would be happy to meet in person as well. I’m currently just a stone’s throw from the hospital.

    • Tony – Did you not get the memo that democracy in “Little Israel” is not welcome. You being 4th pillar of democracy is not allowed near TRMC.

      • He’s not allowed at the Employee Forum, because he isn’t an employee.
        If you want to go talk to the press, go ahead. You’re free to do so. There is a confidentiality agreement that all employees signed when hired on to HCCA. Privacy should be respected.

  14. Did Benny show up for the meeting? Thus is awful, and I feel so bad for the employees, their families, the patients, and the community. Benny should be ashamed of himself.

    • I didn’t see Dr. Benzeevi myself, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t there – when I walked in, Alan Germany was still speaking, but it was the very beginning of the meeting at 8:30am.

  15. The employees are gonna get stiffed, count on it. Benny and Alan are getting paid you can count on it. They have the checkbook. What about the contracted doctors who keep the thing going for Benny – Ostrom and Mackaluso ? They are getting paid too. Those 2 are not gonna work for free. All the good docs, Rashid and the anesthesologist, pediatricans, Dr Smith from the ER etc, they got stiffed for months and they long gone. Yes its a deathwish to go to TRMC.

  16. There are no supplies for patient care, no food available for staff, and no paychecks to pay staff. How can that place stay open?

  17. Funny thing is that even if hospital is closed for patient care, unless they announce it closed and cancel the contract, district is contractually obligated to transfer all monies to HCCA account every night and HCCA thieves can keep paying themselves.

    Amazing contract.

  18. At this mornings employee meeting, Chair Benzeevi stated that the Board/health district hasn’t release any type of funding for over 2 months.

  19. Let’s not skew the issue here. These people are not employed by TRMC/TLHCD, these are HCCA employees. It does not matter if TRMC is behind on payments to HCCA, they have a direct obligation to make payroll. All the finger pointing won’t change the fact HCCA didn’t pay their employees.

    • All Employees got paid 12 hours later… the next day. Cry me a river. Look at the bigger tragedies around the country. The tragic events of Las Vegas, and you’re worried you didn’t get a paycheck for 12 hours. I’m not saying that employees didn’t earn that check. Everyone should get paid, but lets put things into perspective.

      Things have been bad for a long time, waaaaaay before HCCA… and now people are concerned. Should of been concerned back when Bond got passed in 2005 and money was gone and Tower not finished.

  20. My employment contract with HCCA did not mention that my paycheck will be contingent upon funding from XYZ sources.

    I dont need any excuse. I worked for HCCA and they need to pay me.

  21. It is evident that with the paying of all the employees today that they were used to attempt to get more money for HCCA from the board. Couldn’t be paid yesterday but all of sudden they are all paid today.

    Will the employees figure this out? Or do they continue to buy into the lies that have been told to them, including that the board was given information about loans that are available. No loans for HCCA, they have milked all assets and more money is not going to make them able to run the hospital.

    This is extremely painful but recognize the truth of why this is the way it is.

  22. Supplies are short because the hospital per HCCA hasn’t been paying its bills. But those same suppliers are obligated to pay their employees. Likewise HCCA is obligated to pay its employees regardless of whether or not it is paid by the hospital.

  23. Most people want to blame two specific persons, you know the names. However as a past employee i saw the writing on the wall more than 15 years ago. All was lost when the board member were elected for popularity and not qualifications! Seeing the board fighting in public forums, board members going to local paper saying things against the hospital. Did ‘he’ ever realize he was hurting the hospital’s future and defaming himself? This goes back since the final days Boyter. I pray for the staff will have jobs and my old friend i look up to everytime i drive by.

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