Tulare Hospital Board Chair Responds to Chaos at TRMC

Members of the Tulare Local Healthcare District’s Board of Directors were caught completely unaware by news of HCCA’s inability to pay its employees Thursday.

Kevin Northcraft, chair of the District’s Board, said Benzeevi and other high-level employees gave no indication they would be unable to cover the cost of their staff’s salaries during the most recent board meeting. HCCA rarely shares information with the Board, he said.

“We have very little communication (with HCCA),” Northcraft said. “We had an hour-long discussion last night (September 27). They didn’t indicate they couldn’t pay their employees the next day.”

The board, he said, can do nothing about conditions at Tulare Regional as long as the management contract with HCCA remains in place.

“We’re working hard to change it,” Northcraft said. “As long as we have the contract, we have no control over (direct daily management of District facilities).”

Northcraft confirmed the board is ready to act to keep the hospital and its other facilities operating if HCCA proves unable to meet its financial obligations or the contract with HCCA is otherwise severed. He could not discuss specifics; however, details will soon follow.

“We’re obviously working on our options,” he said. “Things are in the works, but we can’t really talk about it. We have a lot of people working as we speak, and it’s almost 10 o’clock in the evening. Some of that will become public soon.”

 

Employee Forum Video Leaked

Video of the HCCA employee forum on the evening of September 28 has leaked to social media, including the Valley Voice’s Facebook page. During the meeting, HCCA CFO Alan Germany told unpaid employees they would receive checks as HCCA received payments and should all be paid by Tuesday. He also said that was not a guarantee.

““We’re not sure exactly,” Germany said. “It depends on the receipts coming in.”

He also confirmed a significant number of employees either did not come to work or left work after HCCA failed to paid them. HCCA had no choice but to go into emergency mode, Germany said.

“In terms of the staffing, everyone knows there’ve been different people who’ve either called off today or when they didn’t get paid they departed,” he told the assembled employees. “This is what’s called an ‘internal disaster.’ That’s really kind of a proactive approach on our part. We didn’t have a lot of choice here.”

 

Surgeries Canceled, Patients Discharged

In the video, Angie Graziano, HCCA’s chief of nursing, told staff the company has a clinical staff contingency plan for each department. It amounts to “what we would run at the very least for the number of patients we have,” she said. She said the hospital is “converting patients out” of ER for procedures and surgeries, canceling elective surgeries, and “trying to get through the weekend with the patients we have, and we’ve discharged as many as we can.”

HCCA, Graziano said, was contacted by the state Department of Public Heath (CDPH), which demanded proof of Tulare Regional’s plan to deal with the crisis. It appears from Graziano’s statements the agency wants all remaining patients at Tulare Regional discharged.

“They (CDPH) are aware of the situation. It is with their direction that they wanted the ER to go into conversion,” she said. “It was their discretion they wanted us to call an internal disaster in order for us to be able to transfer remaining patients out at this time.”

While this does not directly contradict Benzeevi’s statement about patient transfers, they will be upcoming during the state-mandated response.

 

‘He Lied to Us!’

As Germany took questions from staff, he affirmed the company’s contract forbids the District from rehiring former HCCA employees should the agreement be terminated.

“That’s the way it sits,” he said. “The District signed it. There were a lot of attorneys on it.”

A newly hired and apparently angry employee demanded to know why HCCA CEO Benzeevi was not in attendance. Her complaint stemmed from false assurances she would not face being unpaid at the time she was hired, the woman said.

“I was lied to!” she said. “Where’s Benzeevi? He should be the one here facing us.”

Germany promised Benzeevi would attend a second employee forum set for Friday morning, September 29.

The employee was not satisfied.

“We had opportunities to go other places, and then you bold-faced lie to us that we’re going to get our paychecks?” she said. “That’s the way I take it. Why would you risk everybody else’s paycheck to bring in 50 people just to keep your hospital open for another two weeks?”

Germany told her the loan was still awaiting board approval.

“I was told they were getting their money. It was approved,” she said. “In other words, they lied to us just to get us to come work for you guys.”

 

Board Denies Loan Discussion

Earlier in the meeting, Germany told his staff the company had plans in hand to take out loans to cover upcoming operating costs, which would prevent further missed paychecks.

“We have provided the board with a lot of information about some loans that we’ve found out about and that have been presented to us,” Germany said. “Really, it’s some significant amounts. We’ve given the board details in terms of those loans, and they’re going to be considering them.”

He said a special meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 2; yet, Board Chairman Northcraft said no such meeting is scheduled. HCCA, he said, has not provided them details of plans to refinance themselves.

“He (Germany) talked like we’ve got all these details of a loan and they’re waiting for us to approve it,” Northcraft said. “They say we’re not cooperating, but they’re not giving us any information. How can we cooperate?”

He finds himself frustrated by this most recent turn of events and shifting of blame.

“It’s sad they’re trying to blame the board,” Northcraft said. “I really feel for the employees. While the patients are the first concern, the employees work hard and they expect to be paid when they’re supposed to be.”

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

27 thoughts on “Tulare Hospital Board Chair Responds to Chaos at TRMC

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  1. The article above might just propel Germany to first place, as far as his competition with Benzeevi as to who is a bigger liar.
    These guys lie and lie and lie and lie.
    I hope Germany and Benzeevi get a prison sentence commensurate with their crimes.

  2. Germany LIED that HCCA employees cannot be rehired. Specific language in the contract is that district cannot SOLICIT.
    But if employees choose to approach employees on their own, district is not soliciting.

    =====

    Is it not possible for the board to ask sheriff to arrest Benny for causing risk to patient life by mismanaging ?

    ====

    ER is on diversion.
    Surgeries cancelled.
    Existing patients are to be discharged. (and by extension, I would assume no new patient to be admitted)

    So, WHAT exactly do they mean by hospital is OPEN ?????

    Do they mean to say hospital is open to go there and get some cheap food from cafeteria? oops … I forgot, there is no cafeteria either.

  3. LIES, LIAR, CHEAT = Benzeevi & Germany!!! They’re about to be out on their arses and think they still have support from employees. Sure doesn’t look like it! They’re not getting our hospital. They need to get a cold prison cell to rot in for the next 20 years! Move along now, you’re not wanted here.

  4. Angie is a good person she should run away because she is getting splattered by the ka-ka from this place. Other mid managers like Dewayne Iwamora are double dippers and complicit. Needs to be hung with the complicit remaining doctors we know who you are. The new board is in an impossible position hopefully they will totally clean house once the state closes which is iminent. They will all be featured on American Greed one day. Sad to say, any body who works there is not honorable or courageous, just dumb.

    • If they close the hospital, HCCA will still need to be paid. With what? A loan perhaps? A Bond? Maybe get back all the lost revenue your doctors have siphoned to other hospitals because those immature babies who don’t like getting their way. So, what’s it gonna be people? Lemmings matching off the cliff while the doctors who caused this snicker at you.

  5. How very sad…employees who are in the trenches are not getting paid. However, Benzeevi, who I understand is never there and not in the trenches is getting paid?? Has he been collecting his big salary during this time, along with Financial Wizard, Germany??

  6. Why has the new board not yet called a special meeting to address the issues at the hospital right now?
    Dr. Benzeevi asked for a special meeting at Wednesday’s Board meeting – Kevin Northcraft rebuffed him. Why is the new board not taking any action? We hear they have ‘plans’ but if they haven’t made those plans in an open forum then their plans are meaningless – and if they are making plans together outside of a meeting they are violating the Brown Act – they are quick to point fingers – now they are the entire board – where is their action? Where is their transparency? Where is their leadership?

    • The current Board must approve a loan, the same loan the previous Board approved. That or close the hospital. Then the question becomes, will they use those funds to keep the hospital operating, or use it to buy out HCCA? If they use it to buy out HCCA, they will need to go back and get another loan to keep the hospital operating. All the sudden you’ve spent more then the bond HCCA tried to get last year. Brilliant, just brilliant. All you lemmings who followed these new board members to this point own this…. Stand up proud and own it… Good work.

    • You must be part of Benny’s gang. Anyone that talks crap about the new board is a very ignorant person or is getting paid off.Remember your fearless leader didn’t even recognize the new board member until Wednesday night.

  7. You people got the Board you wanted. They will let the hospital go down to spite HCCA. HCCA had approval from the board to proceed with the loan back in July, and this new board stopped it. Now there is no money and you’re crying over it. This is exactly what you wanted, it is you Tulare citizens fault the hospital has gotten to this point, not HCCA. You asked HCCA to come in a fix your hospital and then didn’t like the solution. You allowed your doctors to divert patients to other hospitals to punish HCCA and now you blame HCCA. HCCA is not the enemy, it is your Doctors and this new board who will allow the hospital to close, not HCCA. Them’s the facts, you dummies just refuse to accept it. Good luck, without the loan HCCA wanted in July the hospital will close. This is your choice, this is your board. Embrace it, you own it now.

    • The old board was crooked – the new board is draining the swamp it seems.
      Instead of blaming Tulare citizens, board members, etc, how about writing a book…..Let’s see, a good title would be..

      “What Happened?”

      Oh wait – that title has just been used by another loser who likes to blame everyone.

    • HCCA is the enemy! It is run by a crooked liar named Benny the thief Benzeevi. Any option that involves HCCA staying in power is a terrible option. Benny is a crooked CEO who likes to blame everyone else for his failures. We will never have a decent hospital as long as Benny the thief is in charge.

    • HCCA told all employees that HCCA had use all it’s money, and that the board hadn’t transferred the need money to fund the employees. We are then told the payroll for the staff is about 1.2 million.

      1 hour later, the finance department Magics the money out of thin air. And suddenly they have the 1.2 million to pay everybody.

      The real truth is this, the prior board was corrupt, hcca is corrupt. This is simply a form of blackmail abusing the employees threatening not to pay them threatening to close the hospital transferring patients out in the middle of the night. This whole situation was clearly manufactured by hcca in order to encourage employees in the community to pressure the board.

      But when you tell all your employees that you have no money and then an hour later its mysteriously found.

      It’s clear hcca is simply attempting to Blackmail the community. So they can have the taxpayers take out more loans that they can then mismanage and fill their pockets with… – SAD!

  8. I believe Benny said

    “30 consecutive months of profitable growth”

    “finances have never been better in more than a decade”

    ” 28 million of cash flow”

    Just saying.

  9. Hospital is open for business.

    And

    our business is to kill patients unnecessarily — like you may have read in newspapers over last few months.

      • Benny the thief kept saying that he turned the hospital around. That was a giant lie.
        Now he wants a loan because he has run out of money. He blames the new board and the doctors for his incompetence.
        Get the F out of Tulare Benny and take your cronies Ostrom and Germany with you. We will be just fine without you.

  10. HCCA has acted in bad faith throughout their involvement with TRMC. This payroll shortage is highly suspicious and certainly seems like a deliberate maneuver rather than a fiscal necessity.

    It is time for a criminal investigation in to the awarding of this contract to HCCA, the actions and financial entanglements of certain former board members, and the specific actions of HCCA leadership.

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