Tulare hospital could get up to $22m; will not settle with HCCA

Tulare’s hospital could get an infusion of $22m if a proposal by Assemblyman Devon Mathis succeeds. As the hospital’s board explores Mathis’ proposal and other options, it has decided to stop negotiating with its former management company for a settlement.

Mathis presented the proposal to the California State Assembly’s Budget Subcommittee for Health and Human Services on Monday. Community members and hospital leaders, including board members, spoke to lawmakers to support the proposal as well.

“Despite the best efforts, the board has entered Chapter 9 bankruptcy and needs your help,” Mathis told the subcommittee. “The pressure to reopen the medical center is mounting at a rapid pace because of the extreme healthcare needs beset upon the community.”

“Reopening the hospital is a matter of life and death for the people of Tulare,” Mathis said in a press release. “The state needs to be a partner as we work to get the medical center’s doors open as quickly as possible.”

Two residents have already “died in the streets” due to a lack of access to healthcare, Mathis said.

Xavier Avila, a member of the Tulare Local Healthcare District board, sat next to Mathis and echoed the case for funding from the community’s point of view, noting the impact that the hospital’s closure has had on services in Visalia.

“Anyone can go to the Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia and see the two tents that are pitched, and see so many people. And I recognize those people,” Avila said. “They’re sick, they’re in pain, they have fevers, they have injuries. And they don’t know when they’re gonna be seen by a doctor — and it’s horrifying to see that.”


Funds vital to reopening effort

Between $18-22m could be needed to reopen, Rich Gianello, one of the hospital’s turnaround consultants, told the subcommittee.

While some of that amount could be received through an affiliation with Community Medical Centers of Fresno, the lien placed on Evolutions — a popular gym owned by the hospital district — by the hospital’s former management company, Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, is a large impediment to seeking outside financing from Community or other lenders.

“It’s hung up right now in the bankruptcy where the prior bankruptcy company has placed a lien on some of the assets that we might be able to use as collateral for that loan. We believe that lien — at least our attorneys believe that lien is not valid, but it will take quite a while to work that through the courts,” he said.

He stressed that the funding the hospital is seeking wouldn’t be used to pay pre-bankruptcy debts, and only be put towards reopening the hospital.


Community comment

Deanne Martin-Soares, a member of the Citizens for Hospital Accountability group and former Tulare hospital board member, spoke to inform lawmakers on the history of the hospital — and the group’s vision of the hospital’s future. Her full remarks are available below in a letter signed by multiple members of the group.

“Neither Dr. Benzeevi [the HCCA CEO], nor HCCA, had any prior experience managing healthcare facilities of any size—let alone a hospital. HCCA was formed as a company after being selected to manage and came on the scene after the request for proposal process bids had been closed,” she stated. “Dr. Kumar not only gained the favor from other board members to accomplish this, he made sure that all elected officials, via sizable campaign contributions, did not pursue any investigation into suspicious activity at TRMC.

“Our ultimate goal has always been to have a strong and vital community hospital. We have nearly achieved our goal. Community Medical Centers, based in Fresno, has committed to assisting our hospital through management of the facility. They will invest in our hospital once we can obtain adequate funding to re-open.

“It has been estimated to cost $15-20 million to re-open, and being undercapitalized is extremely ill-advised. This difficult step to attain financing is the last remaining roadblock to re-opening. HCCA has bled our reserves, bled our assets, and bled our community dry.”

Alex Gutierrez, a Tulare resident and son of Tulare hospital board member Senovia Gutierrez, appealed to lawmakers to consider approving the funding.

“We are organized. Our community has fought hard, and our community is now proud to say that we are Tulare Strong,” Gutierrez said. “Currently, this funding that you are considering would be very significant to help us open up our hospital, so we can show you and everybody that we can flourish, and that crooked people cannot put down a whole organized community.”

Mike Jamaica, a Tulare hospital board member, also traveled to Sacramento to speak.

“We’ve been put in a very bad situation and we’re doing the best that we can with what has been left to us, and we’re trying to come out of this hole and trying to be very productive here for our community and our surrounding areas,” Jamaica said. “With that, I hope that you gentlemen can take a real good look at this — and we need your help. We desperately need your help.”

The issue was held open for future action.

Members of Citizens for Hospital Accountability are working to start a community outreach campaign that would implore state legislators to approve the funding for Tulare’s hospital, according to a representative of the group.


No settlement on the table for HCCA

The day after the meeting, a press release from the Tulare Local Healthcare District stated that the board has “decided to remove any offer to settle litigation issues” with HCCA.

“Negotiations [with HCCA] were moving very slowly, if at all, and we need to pursue more viable and less repugnant ways to get our hospital reopened,” Kevin Northcraft, the district board’s president, said.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

38 thoughts on “Tulare hospital could get up to $22m; will not settle with HCCA

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  1. Good job people. I was against settlement with HCCA but am sure I was not aware of all the legal ramifications. Fingers crossed.

  2. I too am glad we don’t have to settle. It would have been hard to swallow knowing Benny was getting off easy/easier. But i would have supported the tough decision of the current board to settle if they felt that was the best option to get the hospital open as soon as possible.

  3. When you are in the right you fight! Take it all the way, make Benzeevi/HCCA sweat! Wish there were a team of highly experienced and talented lawyers in Tulare and in surrounding communities that would litigate for the hospital on a pro bono basis. We need to save as much money as possible to go toward getting the open as soon as possible. I know, crazy thinking on my part….but even so…………

  4. LMAO. Why should lawyers or anybody else work pro bono for the hospital (not counting getting stiffed by Benny’s company) Do the contractors ? Doctors ? Vendors? Employees ? Its not really a charity now, is it? Its a business just like any other. As long as people see these hospitals as not having to earn their own keep, they will waste your money. They have their hands out to the public dole for easy money to be GIVEN to them so they can waste as they see fit. Like pigs at the trough trying to grab free money. The last CEO of Kaweah Delta made Millions in bonuses for that so called nonprofit hospital.

    Private companies sell STOCK to raise capital. There is no health care crisis in Tulare – this is a fraud with failed assemblyman Deven Mathes desperately trying to save his political career, a bit too late. Several publicly funded clinics have stepped up to pick up the slack.

    • Yeah you are absolutely right….but I guess I’m still enough of a Pollyanna to believe in the old adage that sometimes “it takes a village” as well as have enough hope left in my soul to continue believing that “united we stand, divided we fall”. So I can and will continue to believe that there just might be better angels living amongst us…..of course I don’t and won’t hold my breath waiting for them to actually show up! 🙂

    • Do you really believe that clinics are providing emergency care, delivering babies and providing surgery? I wonder how Kaweah Delta would respond to there is no healthcare crisis – they fill the impact and patient beds are not always easy to come by.

      I do agree that there were pigs at the trough grabbing money but those pigs are gone and the damage they did over a number of years will take a lot to overcome.

      If people want to come together to to try and save the hospital why would you begrudge that? A county our size losing a hospital is not going to be good for anyone and it will never come back if we lose it.

    • No healthcare crisis?? They had to send my son to Fresno community hospital where he waited 48hrs in the ER hallway for a bed!

    • Enuf your name should be Lamo because that is what you are. Walk in KDH and see all the Tulare people there and tell them their is no healthcare crisis in Tulare. What a stupid commemt from a LAMO.

  5. Enuf, sounds like you don’t have enough between the ears to understand that when the closest hospital has ER wait times of hours not minutes that can pose a “healthcare crisis”. Tulare doesn’t need its old Hospital back but it does need a Hospital. Hopefully when it reopens it’s a Hospital we all can be proud of.

  6. Actually Enuf does make some good points. Most of the people on that Citizens group that got this new Board elected and closed the hospital are Tea Partiers or people who complain about taxes. So in short, they voted down a bond that would have kept the hospital opened, which by the way the first bond was never enough to finish the Tower, hired poor management companies that charge huge fees, and they are now expecting the State any everyone else to bail it out?? Funny, wonder how the people in Corcoran and the other towns that lost their District hospital feel about that. Tulareans need to take care of their own mess they created, for years it has been going on. One mess after another and now expect a bail out?? KDH is impacted for sure but we pay our own taxes and have to be waiting longer than we should because Tulare screwed up AGAIN. Yeah I’m gonna write a letter to the State Committee and it won’t be in support of another hand out.

  7. TRMC needs help to reopen that is a fact. Ignorance at the ballot box has devastating consequences: Tulare if you don’t like your current hospital then go thank the CronyVoters and CrookedPols YOU enabled.

    How do you like your low budget healthcare now?

    • For everything there is an action and reaction. Actions taken with the 2005 bond taxpayer money delivered wide spread abuse, mismanagement and an abundance of waste….which brought about a fairly predictable reaction….a resounding “No Vote” for more bond taxpayer money in 2016. Fool us once shame on you ….fool us twice shame on us. Voters no longer trusted the board decision makers or HCCA. Can’t blame them.

  8. Well Barbara, yes a predictable outcome, you have no hospital. The Bond money was misappropriated before HCCA. Why should the rest of us have to bail out Tulareans mistakes? Tulare has made blunder after blunder. The new Board promised transparency, now they hide behind the guise of bankruptcy attorneys, hired a management company for more money than HCCA, closed the hospital, 520 people unemployed, and you want the State and the rest of us to do a bail out after you voted down a bond measure?? That’s crazy, Tulare hasn’t shown that they have made any attempt to correct past mistakes. How do you think other communities feel? Corcoran, Lindsey,Colusa, Orange County??? Ridiculous, getting everyone I know to write that subcommittee, just say no. No to Mathes, no to a town that needs to get it together before they go back to the trough

    • Spin, spin, spin! Predictable of you. Me think you doth protest too much EH. Who are you really spinning for….. Benzeevi? Never mind, no need to answer that question, you’ve already answered it.

  9. Barbara, there is no spinning, just facts. You can’t deny that. Just because someone points out truths, doesn’t mean they are a Bennye supporter as you like to call it. I don’t think it is ok to ask people outside THCD
    To foot the bill for ineptness. Period. Don’t you think that other towns who lost their hospital would like to have had a bail out? What’s the incentive for KDH and Sierra View to be judicious with their decision making and resources if they too can expect people to bail them out?

    • If HCCA would have been judicious in their decision making and resources we wouldn’t be in this position. Benny stepped up as an ER doctor/manager to indicate he could operate a hospital that he had no experience in doing so. Then you had a board that selected an individual with no experience over experienced hospital systems.

      Now it is evident that billing was being missed, financials were a scam and no bills were being paid. The solution was to saddle the tax payers with another tax burden by passing another bond that would have went to the yearly climbing salary for a CEO that was inept. Remember per the contract the $3 million annual salary went for one CEO, that didn’t include Germany at $49,000 per month plus expenses, IT guy at $29,000 per month and who knows the others.

      On top of all that the place is a mess due to regular maintenance being neglected.

      Asking for help from any entity possible is what needs to be done to save 1 of only 3 hospitals in our county. There are limited options based on what has been left of the place.

    • Bond money was a parcel tax on all property owners in the Tulare Health Care District. It was the property owners who footed the bill for the 2005 Bond…..and it would have been property owners who would have footed the bill for the 2016 Bond. Do you own property in the Tulare Health Care District? I do agree that the entire city and the surrounding localities are paying some type of price due to all this mess. But no one is paying off millions of dollars of taxpayer bond money unless they are property owners in this district. If I have my facts wrong please correct me……I have no problem with being corrected if my facts are incorrect.

  10. Enuf is right on the money. the citizens should be off the hook. sell the dump to private concerns and get us off the hook. If theres really a health care crisis, somebody can make money on operating it efficiently. Open up a private ER there, the law says they can’t turn anybody away. If some people want it for free, there are plenty of free clinics around who take state and fed money to take care of them. I’d rather go to a private urgent care and pay $100 or so than sit in KDH ER for 12 hours and miss work. You can get an xray at a private office for less than $100. It would cost triple that at KDH or other hospital. Most people are too stupid or lazy and dont want to take charge of their own health care.

  11. Most high level emergencies the ER takes care of right away. its only the minor stuff you wait for 12 hours. Why would anybody go to the ER for flu or fever, constipation or snotty nose or sprain ankle is beyond me if you can get taken care of at one of many walk in clinics springing up around Tulare. My daughter got xray of her wrist just down the street a month ago, cost less than $40 out of pocket. I walked out with a typed report and she was back in school with a small splint in 2 hours.

    Point is, most stuff really can be handled better. Stupid to go to the KDH tent. Do you really think they are taking care of major trauma or heart attack in the tent? If TRMC stays closed, I will bet you anything someone else will come up with an idea to open it and run it better than its ever been run. And rehire any competent staff who still dont have a new job (probably very few out there in this economy)

  12. Barbara, you are correct. District hospitals are to be supported by the District. KDH as well as Sierra View are Districts, folks who live and or have property within those District boundaries pay the parcel tax. That is my point. Why should people in KDH District who already pay have to bear the brunt of THCD mess? We are already paying for it in long wait times in the ER. Why should the State bail it out when other Districts closed their hospital and didn’t have an opportunity to even vote on a parcel tax? If the folks in the THCD didn’t want a bond to finish the Tower and the 2005 was clearly not enough and it stated so, then why should others have to
    Pay for it? You are correct, the first bond was terribly mishandled, the management companies are all profiting in a big way, the community loses. But throwing good money after bad to a District that for 20 plus years hasn’t learned or overseen well is not the answer. This new Board is not performing the way they promised when elected. They can’t be expected to be health care professionals, it’s complicated, but they sure should have the where with all to not enter into another egregious management agreement which they have. They are paying more to the new one than HCCA. It’s a mess, and that’s why I say no to the bail out.

  13. The new board is a total joke. They are paying the new management as much as HCCA to do nothing! The hospital is closed, why such a high management fee? What corruptions do these new board members have up on their sleeves? They ousted HCCA and the old board to do the exactly same thing except the with a closed hospital and no transparency. We need a hospital desperately. At the rate they are going, it’s spiraling down hill with more debts for all of us to pay.

  14. Big businesses are not run like local mom and pop businesses back in the day where common sense, decency and fair play normally ruled the roost. Too many convoluted rules and regulations mixed in with unfair loop holes are in play these days. Scary and ugly! Hard to know exactly who or what to trust. I am choosing to trust our new hospital board but I also expect the board to verify who, what, where, and why on decisions they make.

  15. Everyone is upset with how much HCCA was “paid”, but do you realize that the District owns HCCA around 16M? I don’t think anyone was really getting paid. HCCA loaned its own money back to the district to do pay roll. I am certain that the new management company is not going to work for free and they are not going to loan the money back to the district. They should learn from the past as well. As far as corruption, there was an entire accounting department. They are all responsible for their inept billing department and cash flow of the hospital. If these people are going to get rehired, the cycle will repeat itself. This hospital is needed for our community, but the cost of running a hospital in an area that is not affluent is a big financial burden on the community. Despite all the challenges, I am really hoping that the hospital will reopen because we definitely need it.

  16. I do not believe that Benzeevi/HCCA is owned one damn dime. Benzeevi bled TRMC dry since day one. He with his board of pathetic perverted robin hoods swindled millions of dollars from every nook and granny they could tap into. What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘A fish rots from the head down’?. When an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

  17. Let’s look at the big picture. The hospital was in financial trouble for over a decade, way before HCCA. The 2005 bond was spent quickly without finishing the tower, and who knows where that money went. The DA investigation is costly and he is unable to answer any questions. He’s doing this for show to get favors from the community. While the hospital was in financial trouble starting end of 2016 because of conversion issues in billing, instead of supporting the hospital, people in the community decided to bring the hospital down with negative publicity and instilling mistrust in the services that the hospital provided, and brought more loss of income and patients load. The new board decided to file bankruptcy to kick out HCCA claimed that HCCA was over paid and mismanaged the hospital. The new board took over and is paying the new management company AS MUCH as HCCA for running a CLOSED hospital. This is a huge mismanagement by the present board. It’s like the blind leading the blind. Now the board is trying to get loans to reopen the hospital, but it did not approve HCCA to get loans to keep the hospital open. This does not make sense to me.

    • DUH! HCCA was dirty……you don’t give a loan to a bank robber once you are aware that he stealing you blind. That you don’t get that fact doesn’t make sense to me! Maybe this new board is making the right decisions or maybe they are not……at least they are making their decision based on honest intentions. Time will tell if they are successful or not but one thing we do know is that Benzeevi/HCCA never had honest intentions from day one! Actions speak louder than words. Quit trying to make Benzeevi/HCCA victims, they were perpetrators of the worst kind.

  18. Barbara, you are certain that Benzeevi/HCCA are criminals. Let’s wait and see how the investigation turn out before you can pass judgement. I am looking forward to the actual result of the investigation so we can all put this to rest. Do you have actual criminal evidence against HCCA/Benny? What I see is that the DA is sweating bullets and spending a ton of money and resources for almost a year and cannot find a concrete thing so far. He is really an incompetent DA or all this is for show? Or both. While the board is supposedly having good intentions, only time will tell what is their true motive.

  19. Hahahaha it doesn’t matter who you are if you don’t agree with Barbara ( whoever she is) you must be Bennzeevi. Pathetic!
    The current board created a bigger mess they should have thought about the impact and consequences of their actions!

  20. Barbara they’re right let the evidence speak for itself… i mean theres nothing wrong with taking money that was meant for taxes… oh wait didn’t a similar thing bring down Al Capone… Benzeevi will be in good company. I mean only innocent men have a bunch of burner phones in a go bag. The problem was the former board gave HCCA too much authority… and then HCCA went beyond what they had been given and did whatever they wanted. Like issuing a loan to Lone Pine from TDH. And the former board just covered for them instead of stopping them. I guess that’s what happens when you have a Board of people who benefit personally from decisions they make. Normally you get what you pay for… well we must have been paying for a screwing.

  21. People don’t keep burned phone. They were probably HCCA issued phones to their staff. When the staff was let go, they turned over the phones. Also remember HCCA had to put money into the tower construction to secure it because of open exits that were unfinished etc. That costs money

    • Didn’t the money come from the foundation and a frequent large donor. Let’s see the records that he put anything in. I am sure it can be easily found in numerous bank records that have been obtained. Benny cooked the books with the help of Germany. He left the place in horrible shape and was never forth coming with any truth.

  22. So much for Mathis attempt to try and make up for his misdeeds. The $22 million promise didn’t even get out of the subcommittee. I seriously doubt it ever had a chance.

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