Healthcare Conglomerate Associates has left the Tulare Regional Medical Center for the last time.
The company’s contract to manage the hospital, the Evolutions Gym, its clinics and other associated facilities, was officially terminated at 5pm Wednesday.
Former employees, Tulare Local Healthcare District board members, and community members began gathering in front of the hospital’s allied services building to celebrate as the clock neared 5pm, and counted down the seconds until the clock struck five.
“By my watch — Thanksgiving is seven hours away. Not so — Thanksgiving is here, now,” Stephen Harrell, a newly-appointed board member, told the crowd.
“We have our hospital back. Because of all of you, and all the rest of the people in this community, this hospital will be greater than it has ever been before,” he said.
They rallied in front of the hospital’s allied building to celebrate the occasion, donning green pom-poms — green signifying healing — as part of the Tulare Hospital Foundation’s “Tulare Strong” campaign.
The Tulare Hospital Foundation plans to tie green ribbons around the community starting at 2pm on Wednesday, November 29, in support of reopening the hospital. Those interested in participating can meet at the Tulare Hospital Foundation’s office at 906 N Cherry St, Tulare.
The board members invited the public to walk through the hospital after the rally in front of the hospital’s allied building.
Kevin Northcraft, chairman of the district’s board, gave a short speech once inside, noting that the occasion was one of the first times board members were allowed in the hospital without the prior approval of HCCA.
“One of the things that we promised is that we would take back our public hospital, and tonight is a real important step in that,” Northcraft said.
“We’re finally getting the financial information that we’ve been asking for since last January,” he said. “We’re not going to continue the tradition of never knowing when employees are never going to get paid.”
Although the hospital district still has a significant amount of progress to be made until Tulare Regional can reopen, the handoff represents a significant progression in the process to reopen the hospital.
HCCA still manages the Southern Inyo Hospital in Lone Pine. That facility is also seeking to exit its agreement with HCCA; a federal bankruptcy court judge is expected to rule on the issue on November 29, 2017, at 1:30pm in Courtroom 11 of the Fresno federal courthouse.
The Tulare Hospital Foundation is offering “Tulare Strong” yard signs free of charge, though donations are appreciated; for more information in assisting the Tulare Hospital Foundation, including receiving a yard sign, dial (559) 685-3438.
Additionally, the Tulare Local Healthcare District holds tentative weekly special meetings on Tuesdays at 7pm at Evolutions while the hospital’s operations are suspended; for more information on the board and its meetings, visit tularelocalhealthcaredistrict.org or watch the Voice’s Facebook page.