Tulareans are one step closer to their hospital reopening after the first batch of employees began training with Adventist Health on Monday.
Approximately 100 new hires took part in the training Monday, and the plan is to onboard a total of 230 to 250 employees over the next month.
Adventist Health, a Roseville-based nonprofit, will be taking over operations of Tulare Regional Medical Center on an interim basis. Their long-term goal is attaining voter approval to lease the hospital for 30 years.
The goal of the organization — and the Tulare Local Healthcare District, which owns the hospital — is to reopen on October 15, two weeks before the hospital was closed last year.
Employees from Adventist’s other hospitals in the Central Valley, including Bakersfield, Selma, and Reedley, have come to work at Tulare because they’re excited to join the project, Tammy Kegler, a Human Performance Partner with Adventist, told the Voice.
Kegler was employed with Tulare Regional before the hospital shut down, previously serving as the hospital’s Manager of Human Resources.
“They want to help see this grow,” she said.
Kegler said that some departments have already been staffed, including the hospital’s pharmacy and other areas. Positions are still open for registered nurses and laboratory scientists. Interested applicants can apply at Adventist’s website by clicking here.
She’s excited to be part of the Adventist team and how the organization can serve Tulare, given its scale across the Valley.
“They have resources, from Bakersfield to Selma; so many resources that we didn’t have [previously],” Kegler said.
Many who worked at the hospital before its services were suspended — and those who were part of a “skeleton crew” during its suspension — have come back to work for Adventist.
Angie Graziano is one of those employees. She’s been working at the Tulare hospital for 29 years in one form or another — most recently as the Chief Nursing Officer before the hospital closed.
She stayed on during its suspension, and is now an Associate Chief Nursing Officer for Adventist. The future didn’t look as bright as it does now during the suspension, she said.
“For quite a few months we did not always know if there would be a hospital,” Graziano said. “I think we always had the hope and belief that we were there for a reason, and that we were going to work with the board and our leadership to continue to find a way out.”
She praised the colleagues she worked with during the hospital’s uncertain transitional time.
“Everyone pitched together. We just became a smaller family, with more chores to do, but we were happy to be doing them because we knew our goal was to get the hospital to a point where somebody could help us to open it,” she said. “There’s no way anyone could have got it open without the dedication of all those employees.”
Andrea Jackson is another former employee who’s returning to Tulare.
She’s currently working for Adventist’s Selma hospital, but is transferring back.
“I’m excited to be back at home — and drive three minutes, instead of 45 minutes,” she said.
Randy Dodd, Adventist’s Vice President of Business Development, said that his organization was excited to be partnering with the district to reopen the hospital.
He said that Adventist sees many of the same attributes in Tulare that it does in its other Central Valley markets, such as Hanford, Selma, and Reedley.
“Tulare is a community much like others that we serve. We know rural communities like Tulare.
“We understand those markets and how to function and provide care with that geography. Tulare for us is a new market — there’s not very much overlap with the Hanford market, or Selma, Reedley; it provides us an opportunity to expand our region,” he said.
“And, for Tulare, clearly, it rescues the hospital and allows care to continue here, in a way that we think is an excellent way to provide care,” he added.
Adventist has loaned the hospital district $10m to use towards repairs, equipment upgrades, and other work necessary for the state to allow Tulare Regional to reopen.
So far, that work is on time and within the budget, he said.
“It has been nothing short of amazing what’s been done and accomplished already. Everything looks to be — and, by the Grace of God, if everything continues on, we’ll be open the 15th,” he said. “It’s hard to describe it any other way, except that it’s a miracle.”