After TRMC Closure, Area Hospitals Prepare for Influx

Tulare Regional Medical Center has suspended its services as of October 29, 2017. Hospital officials don’t have a timeline on when the hospital will re-open. Tony Maldonado/Valley Voice

With the shutdown of Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC) on October 29, other area hospitals are prepared to take on an additional patient load.

The remaining TRMC patients were transferred to neighboring hospitals late last week, including to Kaweah Delta Health Care District (KDHCD), Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC) and Adventist Health in Reedley.

At KDHCD in Visalia, “We are near or at capacity daily in the acute medical center;” said Laura Florez-McCusker, senior public relations specialist. The hospital has 403 beds.

“We are here to serve the community and provide care for those who need it,” she added. “Like many hospitals, we have experienced times of high patient demand, and we expect that to continue as we move into cold and flu season, a peak time of year for hospitals.

“In recent months, Tulare physicians have asked for, and been granted, staff privileges to care for patients at Kaweah Delta.

“Last month, at the request of their doctors, we began receiving patients from Tulare [TRMC]. We always try to accommodate immediate needs for patient transfers from any hospital.”

SVMC is a 167-bed, full-service acute care facility in Porterville. “With our proximity to Tulare Regional, we are preparing to support our neighbors and community to the best of our ability,” Kiley Arce, public relations assistance for the hospital stated on October 27. “We currently have available beds on all nursing units with the exception of our Cardiac Telemetry Unit, which is at capacity. We also have four patients being held in our Emergency Department at this time awaiting that level of care.”

“Life Star Ambulance services, which serves Tulare, has been transporting patients from Tulare and surrounding areas for the past few weeks, but we have seen a larger increase this [past] week,” she said.

Emergency Services

Normal fall ER increases are added to by additional increases from the Tulare community.

SVMC has an 18-bed emergency room.

“SVMC is seeing a typical increase in emergency department volume with the onset of fall,” said Jeffrey Hudson-Covolo, SVMC vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nurse executive. “Our daily census in the emergency department averages 128 patients per day for September and October.

“We have confirmed flu in the outpatient clinic setting in our community and one patient has been admitted to the hospital for the complication of having the influenza. Daily ambulances volume was up in September and October by 23%.”

KDHCD has 41 beds in its emergency room and sees approximately 300 patients per day.

Seeing patients from the Tulare area is not new.

“Existing policy [dictated by the state and county] outlines where we take people,” said Jackie Paull, vice president of Life Star Ambulance, which serves Tulare and the surrounding areas of Tipton, Pixley and Earlimart. “Any patients with trauma or cardiac in nature, they had been going to Kaweah Delta anyway.”

Patients who are stable have always had the choice of where they would like to go, be it TRMC, KDHCD, Sierra View or further, Paull said. Now, they are just a bit more limited, without TRMC. The majority has not only chosen KDHCD recently, but in the past as well, she explained.

Life Star was once a part of the TRMC district and was managed by the board. In 1995, the ambulance service was privately purchased, but remains dedicated to the community. It has a good relationship with TRMC, its nursing staff and doctors, Paull said, as well as the community.

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care

The SVMC urgent care department, “helps to decrease wait times in our ER by evaluating and treating non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses,” Hudson-Convolo said.

The importance of the use of urgent care versus an emergency room need should always be considered.

According to the KDHCD website, “If you are sick or need non-emergency care and your doctor is unavailable, our urgent cares and health clinics are ready to care for you. We would like to help you choose the right place to receive the best and most timely care.”

SVMC echoes with similar information. “The main difference for treatment at the ER versus Urgent Care is if the patient is experience life-threatening conditions,” Arce said. “Urgent care can best be utilized for flu symptoms, minor cuts or burns, broken bones and other symptoms for non-life-threatening injuries, illnesses and conditions.”

SVMC’s urgent care hours of operation are 4pm-11pm Monday-Friday, and 11am-9pm weekends and holidays. It is located at 263 Pearson Drive in Porterville.

KDHCD’s urgent care is open from 8am – 10pm, daily. It is located at 1633 S Court St. in Visalia.

“We understand the severity in the loss of a hospital so close to home for the Tulare community,” Hudson-Convolo said. “Sierra View Medical Center is prepared to support Tulare and its surrounding communities for emergency and urgent care services, as well as provide comprehensive outpatient and hospitalization services as needed.”

Medical Staffing

With fall leading into winter seeing a demand for additional needs of medical services, and the foresight of the potential closure of TRMC, SVMC is seeking additional staffing.

“Winter tends to be our busy season so we have already anticipated additional staffing needs and are currently recruiting for 48 open positions,” said Tracy Canales, SVMC vice president of human resources. The hospital held a career fair on November 1.

“We have also taken measures to increase staffing at our medical center and at our urgent care center,” Flora-McCusker said. “We are prepared to handle the region’s trauma needs as the only trauma center between Fresno and Bakersfield.”

For job openings at KDHCD, visit its website at www.kaweahdelta.org/Careers/Career-Search-Log-In.aspx

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

44 thoughts on “After TRMC Closure, Area Hospitals Prepare for Influx

  1. Tulare needs a high end urgent care clinic, 24/7 would be good. There are already decent lab services in town and a new xray radiology office close to the hospital and doctors offices. Send the complicated cases to Kaweah or Fresno. The district could run it. Seems to me, ICU and most other hospital services are money losers.

  2. Where are those ideas coming from Rodger Mc I find them suspect are these your ideas? Ive seen you mention this before I certainly hope this is not the direction anyone would even entertain.
    This community deserves a hospital that is what our property taxes are paying for right now not a glorified clinic.

    • What Roger mc are you referring to?
      I can assure you that is not Roger McPhetridge!
      We have both always advocated for a strong hospital to provide quality care!

  3. One thing to remember is that when YOU are at your Doctor’s Office, and you may even want to ask: Were they referring THEIR patients to our Hospital in Tulare, or not? This is one of the biggest ‘hits’ to the Hospital and a major revenue stream. The most I have found was that, just because they didn’t like/trust Dr. B, they did this anyway. It was, and is a ‘traitorous’ move on their part. Who did it hurt? YOU. OUR Community. OUR Hospital. They did us NO favors in this undermining. NEVER forget that…

    • A doctor’s loyalty is to his patient first and foremost! How can one expect a doctor to refer his patients to a hospital that he does not have complete trust and confidence in how that hospital is being run and being managed. Never forget THAT!

      • Except of course the care received was never in question – this was all personal. The doctors hated Dr. Benzeevi and didn’t care that their petty bullshit is destroying the lives and families of 600+ employees. I know doctors who would not refer patients to other doctors because that doctor was still referring patients to TRMC. That has nothing to do with patient care at the hospital that has everything to do with those doctors engaging in a vendetta. I have said it before and it cannot be said enough – the doctors who refused to refer patients to TRMC to satisfy their petty stupid bloood feud have destroyed public confidence in the hospital have destroyed the lives of the employees who now face the holidays with no jobs, have destroyed access and availability of quality care for the community and the rabble cheer. The disgusting doctors laugh and celebrate their victory while they enjoy their lavish lifestyles and the hard working employees of the hospital wonder how they will pay their bills. And to top it off they get to watch all of these sheeple applauding the destruction their handpicked marionettes on the board have wrought as if it was some righteous victory. you should be ashamed but you lack the self-awareness to even know it.

        • So you say but that doesn’t make you correct. You have an ax to grind because Benzeevi’s ugly mask was ripped off his (your???) face publicly. Now everyone who isn’t delusional sees him for what he really is……a con man, a snake oil salesman, and shyster carnival barker playing his shell game . Just in case you truly aren’t Benzeevi I’ll try to put it a little nicer to you…..your problem is that your talking points are without merit as they are simply pitiful hockypoo.

        • You forget that Benzeevi did lie numerous times to employees. I was there when he said, just this summer, that everything was fine. That the hospital was in the best financial health it had been because of HCCA. Do you not remember the letter the HCCA marketing person put in the Visalia Times Delta as a rebuttal? Google it!!!! She further states the great health of the hospital. All lies. No one buys the BS you are selling.

        • Now it is over 600 employees. Do you realize that is 30+ employees for 1 patient admitted. Is that even normal? Or does Benny just keep those high numbers so he can earn his additional 30% on wages.

          • There are 524 HCCA employees (which includes the staff at Evolutions and the clinics) there are also employees of the contracted services (registration, scheduling, IT, maintenance, food services, house keeping, etc). You obviously don’t understand how staffing works – every employee is not full time and the hospital and the ancillary services are required to have some representation in a 24×7 operation. Their are financial reports audited by the state that are available to anyone. THey show that what HCCA was saying about the hospital finances were true when they said it. What is also true is that the Doctors of Tulare starved the hospital of patients and revenue, that a conversion to an updated electronic medical records system resulted in revenue cylce issues that saw billing and reimbursements decimated for months and there was a perfect storm in 2017 of billing issues, lower patient census, and public credulity about any and every possible conspiracy theory that brought us to where we were – this was a perfectly understandable confluence of events that caused an extraordinary drop in hospital revenue – but rabble rousers and conspiracy theorists and the credulous gullible “they are stealing from us” ignoramuses don’t want nuance or reality they want cartoon villains and blood in the water. And again, the most relevant and critical piece of all of this is that the doctors who had been using the pharmacy as their own personal stockpile, who covered for each other when they effed up patient care, who didn’t do their jobs at policing and evaluating and ensuring that their peers did as they should in this endless you will look the other way for me if I look the other way for you shadow play decided they didn’t like who led HCCA so they weren’t going to refer patients to the hospital or to doctors who looked like they were supporting the hospital or to doctors who they thought were friendly with HCCA, these doctors who put their petty disgusting personal vendettas over the communities health, the success of the communities hospital, and ultimately the livelihood of hundreds of Tulare citizens are who really deserve our disdain/ They are disgusting. These are facts. You can have all the disagreements with the contract that you want (and I too agree that is is a very surprising contract – although given the absolute lack of critical thinking skills exhibited by the rabble of tulare I know why it was written how it was, and why it attempted to prevent the things it did). You people are ridiculous. The doctors -those effing disgusting villains are getting away scott free as rents go unpaid and the estimated 50 million dollar hit to the Tulare community is celebrated as some virtuous step forward. Completely idiotic.

        • Dr. Sleezi,

          Your own MEDFLOW ER company’s care was in question, and if anyone asks when you came in in 2014 (or whenever) with it everyone there knew your medflow staff couldn’t take care of dead horse much less a patient! If it was all so “personal” why did you bring in physicians and medical staff to the E.R. that were even worse than the original med staff you cut ties with?! Money? People could walk into the back of that E.R. and see nothing but medflow med staff playing on their stupid iphones and socializing in lieu of seeing patients. You call that healthcare?!

          I find it very interesting that you indicate that the TRMC physicians “didn’t care that their petty bullshit is destroying the lives/families of 600+ employees.” What petty shit are you referring to? Their beef with you for firing them when they were there WAY before you ran this hospital into the ground? How about you firing the original Compliance/Risk Manager for telling you how it is in violation of several medical compliance laws in a directors meeting? You didn’t have the WALNUTS to fire her in person did you? Just pull in HR and have them do it for you? WOW…and then you decide to give the TRMC financial controller the responsibility?! What the hell?! You call that making executive decisions?! What’s even worse was you changing the hospital logo and color everywhere on the main hospital campus and the clinics themselves..why did you do that? It looks like CRAP!!! HCCA THIS AND HCCA THAT?! WHY?!?!

          Youre the disgusting doctor who thinks you can be a businessman/executive yet you failed at it! And lavish lifestyles? LOL…it must be nice charging the hospital how many times over the average market rate for a hospital manage services company? And driving around in a Porsche wagon? Which BTW that is the most hideous looking euro car I’ve ever seen. All to do what?!

          It’s YOU who should be ashamed knowing damn well that you didn’t do a damn thing to turn this hospital around you just wanted to run this hospital YOUR WAY which caused complete failure to begin with! And it’s YOU who lacks self-awareness yet you’re too incompetent to even know it much-less what the hell you were even doing there at that hospital.

          Ed. Note: This comment was originally posted as someone claiming to be HCCA CIO Shawn Burgess. This person isn’t him.

          • Shawn, good summary. Glad to see someone slap this man back with the truth. I know of yu from BH I think or INtellidot. Or Trmc .Can’t recall.
            got it right. I did Interim before HCCA arrived and left after 2 months. Saw the writing on wall.
            Nice employees and poor leadership.
            When all done Kumar will still run the town. I hope and assume you have left. Working in leadership with this team is a career ending.

          • This is the REAL Shawn Burgess!
            I don’t know who posted this comment purporting to be me. However its disgraceful to hide behind someone else’s name and is a reflection of poor character.

            I have a higher degree of professional decorum as well as literacy than reflected in this despicable (anonymous) post.

          • Thank you Tony. I appreciate the action taken to remove my name from the post in question.

  4. Mine, and Other’s Care has been great! Really disillusioned when the Doctor in chatting, in HIS office, said EXACTLY what I wrote above Barbara. I agree with you 100%… but, after asking around to others, what was said was a pretty solid pattern among ‘our’ Physicians who are ‘putting us first’. We were/are getting Care, it’s just that we are being referred out to other facilities and not to our own ‘Hometown Hospital’.

  5. Most doctors at KDDH and TRMC don’t see their patients in house. Most have what is now called hospitalist groups, which I hate. These doctors don’t now you and your issues at all. They only treat you based on info recieved from ER Room etc.and every dau a different doctor from the group sees you. Wish it was lile the old days and your primary doctor took care of you when you were in patient. My doctor is one that everyone said told his patients to go to Visalia, never once did he tell me that. I choose to go to KDDH on my own bevause I research correct state sites for facts on facility and physicans involved

  6. Many people still have an idealized vision of the nice friendly local community hospital.
    Kinda like Sears Roebucks and JC Penney catalog shopping.
    The hospital business is changing. The nice comfy place you remember where you had your babies. Most local hospitals around here are mediocre (at best !). KDH is not very good, Hanford and Pville are certainly no better than TRMC. A private clinic like Sansum would be a better alternative. It would attract the best doctors in the area. A “new” TRMC may not fare much better than the old one. Our District representatives need to be thinking out of the box.

  7. I think Roger$ needs to wake up and smell the coffee. I have been a patient many times at KDH. The in house doctors are great. TDH has not been up to par along with their doctors for years now. KDH is great, I feel safe there and they rated very high on safety. Tulare got an F. Sorry they have a lot to do.

  8. I surely hope the plan to save the hospital all along was nothing more than to actually turn it into a clinic! I’m personally tired of the bait and switch that happens so frequently in this community. I certainly hope I am dead wrong In my observations.

    • Hmmm…I detect some sarcasm here. Sorry Karen, have to agree with Roger, KDH has a checkered history of quality. Its only the rock bottom competetion of Hanford, Tulare and Sierra View that makes it look better in comparison. Fresno Community Med Center is major league and a distinct threat to KDH if they get in to the county. Its just business and we need the competition.

  9. Kdh is so great that a now retired local neurologist recomended that I go to Sansom for a heart procedure. I think of that every time one of those KDH infomercials comes on.

  10. Hey WWT, are you Benny or the brother of Benny? Quit the trash talk about the previous Doc’s at TRMC. They all met sweet talking Benny as an ER Doc. He slowly began to bully and threaten these guys when they wouldn’t do “as I say”. He continued his ways and pretty much alienated all of the Doc’s. Accept the fact that when you lie for a living eventually it will bite you in the rear. Keep making excuses for poor Benny but I think a lot of people are disgusted with the way a handful of greedy men can destroy so many lives and walk away with big fat wallets. Makes me sick to think about it.

  11. Please tell me again why I should be so happy about what has happened. Last year, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

    The insurance provided by HCCA has been my lifeline. Now, due to a mess-up at KDH, I am in desperate need of life-saving surgery to remove the infected surgical mesh they implanted (it has drained infection since a week after they put it in. It is affecting my internal organs and putting me at increased risk.) Of course I cannot schedule surgery with NO INSURANCE. And with my condition, the costly appointments with the oncologist keep coming.

    I am in constant pain and concern.

    I KNOW I DON’T MATTER TO YOU AND I UNDERSTAND THAT. I am just a faceless casualty of the decisions made. TOO BAD. Your life will go on. It doesn’t matter who you put the blame on, the outcome for me is still the same. Your “ prayers” and good wishes Will not help me sleep tonight or my help family plan for the future. I cannot understand why a board with ALL the power could not use their power and the law Force HCCA to renegotiate. A childhood could have predicted what has happened. Both sides failed to display any finesse or negotiating skills. Surgery with a chainsaw generally does not turn out well.

    Good, bad, or indifferent, please remember let your posts affect a lot of people in ways of which you have no idea.

    I have spoken to some of the members on the new board they are good people. I pray that somehow something good will happen for the community and for me. my family. especially my 10 lovely grandchildren.

    All of our decisions have consequences it just makes it easier for us when somebody else has to pay the price for decisions we make. There were alternative ways to deal with this hospital matter.

    If you really know Him, please pray for me and my family.

  12. What a mess!! This new board is a freaking joke. People with limited transportation are suffering and in general this created a caos for our city and people are extremely sad and unhappy. The ones with money can afford and go anywhere. The new board FAILED miserable. Bring KAISER.

  13. Mickey, WTWT. Benny, it can only be you, it is your confrontational style. You are quite the blogger. You were a lousy doctor. The doctors, nurses and the staff at TRMC and KDH just did not take you seriously. They considered you a lightweight. That really ticked you off. This campaign of yours is your attempt to avenge your perceived lack of respect. Now put your tail between your legs and run out of town with the money you have made from us. Just go.

    • Hey WTWT Benny, when you land back down on earth think of a couple concepts: first perhaps if you didn’t fire the old MEC and reduce their privileges to “provisional “ they may have stayed. Also, if your newly formed company HCCA, who had zero experience managing a hospital , was reporting a profit in December why did you and your buddy Parmod start writing promissory notes because cash was running low? Let’s face it Benny, time and money ran out on your watch and nothing you can say will change that.

  14. If you want to hear what happened to our hospital, be at the joint meeting at 6pm. The group that claimed they wanted to save the hospital has now closed it. They have used 500 plus employees as collateral damage. While many people are out looking for work and trying to keep their homes, the hospital board is trying to give our hospital to Adventist Heath. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but STOP LYING!!! City Hall is still open, stop blaming council members. We are all tired of the finger pointing. Not having meetings at council chambers didn’t close the hospital doors. Campaign donations didn’t close the hospital. Who paid for Northcraft and Jamaica signs? I had one. Who paid for Senovia’s campaign? I supported “Save our Hospital” hoping to save our hospital. I feel deceived, as should all of Tulare, especially the employees. Let’s show up for those employees. Let’s show up for Tulare. The hospital board owes us all an explanation and a plan. Or we need to vote them out for broken promises and lies.

    • Just give it up, “….says”, um, or whoever you are.

      Benny and gang were CROOKS!! All the old employees are looking forward to the new hospital!!!! And the new board is GREAT!!

      THE PLAN! BENNY! THE PLAN!!

      GET CROOKED HCCA OUT (accomplished)

      Bring in a better hospital for Tulare!! (in the works)

    • Your sorely mistaken, who closed it was Benzeevi. He issued a WARN letter to the staff with an immediate layoff, 3 days notice. That could have permanently closed the hospital, instead the board one upped ole Benny and suspended the license. This way the hospital can re-open and people can be re-employed.

      By the to you and all the employees the way that WARN letter was issued and handled looks questionable. Severe penalties to the employer for not adhering to that law. But Benzeevi doesn’t seem to care about laws nor the employees.

      • The WARN notice was required to be sent by HCCA as soon as the Judge decreed that they had to leave by 11/27 – they were going to no longer employee over 500 people after that date and the law allows for less than 60 days notice for extraordinary business circumstances and allows a company to give as much notice as possible – which this was. The WARN notice was standard and well within the letter and intent of the law- the response by the board was not standard.

        • I wonder how many employees are going to be contacting the labor board tomorrow, apparently they have no idea if they are going to be paid Thursday no communication no updates even with a full administrative staff on the campus, Unbelievable…haven’t these employees been through enough already. Do you get your kicks treating people like garbage Benny and Kumar, how are you sleeping at night. Bet you aren’t up at night worring about paying your obligations what a legacy you leave,there isn’t a word that can even explain your actions.

        • What in this circumstances allowed for a 3 day notice? Supposedly these employees have no hours but they are still employees and since there were receivables still coming in there was no need to do that on such notice. It is a real stretch that HCCA qualifies for one of the three reasons allowable by law.

  15. I have no confidence in the new board. There is no plan and for people to think they can actually make a difference, please! Barbara your level of ignorance just makes me laugh. Look around the joke is on you!! Bully!

    • Hey Mickey would you have preferred to have Benny mortgage the hospital property to put more money in his pockets while putting less patients in beds? Benny’s plans were to continue bleeding out taxpayer money for himself. At least no we can work towards a viable hospital and welcoming back our wonderful employees to our public hospital

  16. Pablo, I am so sorry. This is sad, I understand your situation. One of my famy members refuses to go to KDH, they did nothing for him. Tulare Hospital gave him the best care. Today we are lucky to have him with us.
    This is my family story, so yesss ” we had great care and great doctors in Tulare ” My story, my experience!

  17. Today they were supposed to hand out our final checks after 1. Some of us even called Hr to confirm if they were going to be handing them out. Guess what this crooked hospital did to us!! Yep they didn’t pay us! Left before 1 (so no employee can go inside the HR department). We had to hear it from our security that there were no checks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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