A Day Late and $85 Million Short

Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC) its clinics and gym, Evolutions, are scheduled to close–temporarily, it is hoped–at midnight tonight, 28 October, and at the time of this writing the new board of directors has yet to have access to the financial information it requires to accomplish much of anything.

The books are still in Healthcare Conglomerate Associates’ (HCCA) hands. HCCA is the alignment partner that, until Federal Bankruptcy Judge Rene Lastreto ll approved TRMC rejection of the HCCA contract on 25 October, managed the hospital’s daily operations.

Three things happened virtually simultaneously last week–between Wednesday and Thursday, that is. On Wednesday morning, as aforementioned, Judge Lastreto approved the contract rejection. That evening, at its regular meeting, the Tulare Local Healthcare District (TLHCD), the board which governs TRMC, voted to voluntarily suspend its California operational license–a studied maneuver in an attempt to safeguard itself from a state-initiated shutdown in the event HCCA fired its employees.

On Thursday morning HCCA terminated its employees.

I’m uncertain if even all the many attorneys know what will happen next. What seems clear, though, is the bravery demonstrated by the new TLHCD board. So let’s name them: Kevin Northcraft, Mike Jamaica, Senovia Gutierrez and Xavier Avila.

A state-initiated shutdown might have proved impossible to recover from, given that re-opening the hospital in that case would be akin to opening a new one. Under a voluntary suspension, the hospital is less subject to fines and dodges completely the onus of having to be fully up to all codes before re-opening.

The new board, then, didn’t fall on its sword–it fell on a safety pin. While a painful stab, still, it’s a wound TRMC can recover from.

Let’s hope the 524 terminated employees, and their families, can endure this arduous–but hopefully brief–trial. They, too, will have to be brave.

Unlike the old TLHCD board–and let’s name them, also: Sherrie Bell, Dr. Parmod Kumar, Linda Wilbourn, Laura Gadke and Richard Torrez–all names that could be featured in a book such as “Profiles in Courage” only if it was penned by Vidkun Quisling as opposed to JFK.

I can’t imagine any more egregious traitors to the good taxpayers of the City of Tulare–unless it would be four of the five Tulare City Council members. Would the old board have fallen on a safety pin in furtherance of the public good? No. That board was an HCCA rubber stamp, and if you must have proof all you need do is peruse the record Tony Maldonado has amassed on the Valley Voice website.

It has been suggested in online commentary that Tulareans boycott their businesses–and maybe that’s a good idea, given that the old board members seem immune from the reach of the law and we each of us do, ostensibly at least, live in a democracy. Or one wherein, somehow, corporations are now held to be “people.”

I suppose a corporation can be a person if only one person owns and controls that corporation.

And now the Tulare City Council–about as sterling, honest and trustworthy a body as the old TLHCD board was–has chimed in with its two cents worth. Of course, it can afford much more than that if it has been able to keep its Chief of Police in a state of paid suspended animation–unexplained–for more than a month now.

But now, mysteriously–and in its benign wisdom–the Tulare City Council has finally deigned to meet with the new TLHCD board. Now that it’s a day late and $85 million short.

Suddenly, instead of drafting a letter it has debated for weeks–a letter asking for a state audit of HCCA’s books–the Tulare City Council has decided to meet with the new TLHCD board on 7 November, purportedly to hear from the board its opinion of having such a letter sent in its support.

I do commend Councilmember Jose Sigala for being the sole member to have always recognized that the best interests of TRMC mesh with the best interests of the City of Tulare.

Tulareans–you can thank the old TLHCD board and your city council, except Sigala, for any economic chaos to come.

Joseph Oldenbourg

2 thoughts on “A Day Late and $85 Million Short

  1. Will that City Council Meeting stream live? Or recordered and posted online? I will be away on business that day but if I were in town I would be at that meeting supporting our current TRMC Board of Diectors. We, the citizens if the District, need to support our hospital Board members. What time does the meeting start?

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