Tulare hospital to reopen its Mineral King Lab

Tulare Local Healthcare District will reopen its forensic laboratory Monday.

Mineral King Lab was closed on Oct. 28, 2017 by Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, the district’s former management partner.

While the district’s board voted in October to voluntarily suspend its acute care license — which covers the operation of the Tulare Regional Medical Center — the Mineral King Lab’s services are not covered under that license and can be reopened.

Efforts still continue to reopen the hospital and its clinics the hospital’s lab, separate from the Mineral King Lab, will not reopen Monday.

“I’ve been running all over the county to get customers back,” said Matt Chapman, operations manager of the lab which does forensic alcohol and drug testing for law enforcement.

Chapman said all law enforcement in Tulare County, including probation, utilized the Tulare lab prior to its closing. Today, those agencies have to send their samples to a lab in Clovis.

“We serve mostly law enforcement and other hospitals,” Chapman said, adding Sierra View Medical Center has already indicated it was coming back to Mineral King.

The lab is a full-service toxicology laboratory doing complete employment and industrial drug testing for pre-employment screening and on the job injuries. Its services include: Laboratory tests, collection of specimens, medical review officer services and record keeping.

The lab draws and then test samples and it’s a seven-day, 24-hour service.

Chapman said the lab will begin with six employees, only two less than it had when it was closed. He hopes to bring that staffing up to eight in the near future.

All of those being hired previously worked at the hospital.

Chapman stressed the lab is still licensed by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Dr. Gary Walter continues to be the medical director for the facility.

For more information, call 559-685-3456.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

11 thoughts on “Tulare hospital to reopen its Mineral King Lab

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  1. that’s great, but didn’t Dr Gary Walter get in some trouble with a DUI? Does that mean he will also have a salary coming from a closed hospital? How many prior accounts have agreed to come back, enough to cover 6 employees and a director, plus all the on call pay for being called to draw blood if needed on DUI arrests?

  2. Yes that is a step in the right direction and something the district should be operating, I hope at a profit. But I agree its time to turn the page on the few doctors who are carryovers from the Benny and Kumar show and Dr Walter is one of them who took a seat on Bennys puppet medical staff committee not to mention other problems mention by Smarterthan.

  3. In light of Dr. Walter’s history of alcohol abuse and questioning of job performance and outcomes as a coroner in SLO I suggest that he be replaced as medical director as soon as possible. A clean slate is sorely needed.

  4. for once I agree with Barbara. Larry if you are listening – the community wants to move away from the fiasco of the recent past and that includes doctors who were tied to the previous regime. and this one really has baggage.

  5. Nothing really changes at TRMC. Same old cronyism. Doctors who sat on Bennys fake board and managers who were in leadership positions with the past failures all expect to be handed their previous jobs and contracts by the new management. That is not how its done in the real business world, folks. Doomed to fail.

  6. I am in receipt of several comments regarding our local Pathologist. Those who question his competency, please have the courtesy of contacting me to discuss. I encourage you to obtain accurate information regarding this matter. Thank you!

  7. As diligent and hardworking as Mr. Blitz and his crew have been, I am sure they looked at both pros and cons before they hire or rehire anyone.

  8. I don’t recall the article stating that Dr Walter is appointed for life. Come on people, can’t we just applaud the lab opening and a step in the right direction.

  9. I dont see anyone questioning Dr Walters medical qualifications. There are bigger and perpetual issues here. With all due respect to Larry, its the 1st time in years the opportunity has presented itself to bring in fresh blood and clean out the past at this institution. And the response was simply to rubber stamp the old guard and bring them back. Very ominous.

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