Measure H to Decide TRMC’s Fate

There are only two options for voters in the Tulare Local Heath Care District (TLHCD) who will either approve or deny Measure H on the November 6 ballot. It’s a simple choice, yet the future of the city’s hospital hangs in the balance.

No on H,

No on Hospital

If voters approve the measure, the district will be allowed to grant Adventist Health a lease of up to 30 years to operate the shuttered Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC). TRMC closed in October of last year and reopened on October 15, just weeks ahead of polling, with staff from Adventist providing medical services under a temporary operating agreement.

TRMC faced an October 29 deadline to reopen or be permanently closed. That deadline has now been extended to the end of March. As the original deadline approached, Adventist loaned the District $10 million to cover costs associated with reopening, and placed 40 full-time staff members at TRMC to prepare for the reopening.

If voters say no to Measure H, Tulare will likely never have its own hospital again, says District President Kevin Northcraft.

“We have no money,” said Northcraft. “Unless somebody steps in and says here’s millions of dollars, we won’t be able to reopen.”

Council Supports H

In a unanimous vote, the Tulare City Council gave Measure H its endorsement. Mayor David Macedo says getting TRMC back in business has deeper consequences for the city than just providing care.

“I’ve already signed a letter of support. It was a 5-0 vote,” he said. “We need this hospital up and running for so many reasons.”

Chief among them, he says, is increased tax revenue and commerce. While putting a staff back to work will drive immediate and direct increases in sales tax for Tulare, having TRMC up and running will also ensure future growth, Macedo says. Adequate medical facilities are something investors look for when assessing a region for possible growth.

“When they come and look in your city, they’ll ask about public safety, they’ll ask about schools, and they’ll ask about your hospital,” Macedo said. “There are certain services they’re looking for. That’s a check mark we can put back.”

An Obvious Choice

TLHCD Board Member Steve Harrell, who addressed the Council prior to its vote of support, says the selection voters should make is clear: They should vote yes.

“Measure H is very simple. It’s actually two questions,” he said. “The first one would be: Do you want a good, quality hospital in Tulare that will provide outstanding medical care, emergency care, everything that you would expect out of a good hospital? I say the answer would be, ‘Yes.’”

It’s also approval for the company the board has selected to run Tulare Regional. Adventist, the TLHCD Board maintains, is the only viable option. They’ve had no other offers.

“The second part of that is would be a yes to approve the lease for Adventist, because that’s who’s going to apply this outstanding medical care for this community, hopefully for a long time to come,” Harrell said.

Yet some of those who fought to save TRMC when it was foundering now have concerns with the new lease agreement.

Hospital Accountability

Last week, the board agreed to accept $2.3 million a year for the lease of the Tulare Regional Medical Center campus. Should voters approve the board’s decision, the lease to Adventist would extend for up to 30 years, and the TLHCD would not be allowed to compete against Adventist.

This has brought complaints from those who fought to wrest control of TLHCD and TRMC from the previous management company, Health Care Conglomerate Associates. Dr. Patty Drilling-Phelps, who helped lead Citizens for Hospital Accountability’s efforts, is concerned the lease ties the district’s hands, leaving it unable to raise revenue by providing health care or by providing additional services.

Deanne Martin-Soares, another member of Accountability group and a former TLHCD Board member, also objected to the deal, saying the public has yet to see the fair-market value of TRMC’s campus. She’s concerned the district will be unable to pay its past debts and pay for future seismic upgrades under the terms of the 30-year agreement.

Hospital campuses have unusually low resale values compared to other properties. In 2008, Tenet Healthcare sold seven hospital campuses in Southern California, all of them larger than TRMC. The average sale price was $3.3 million.

Despite Drilling-Phelps and Martin-Soares’ concerns, the board approved sending the lease for voter approval unanimously. Voters will OK or nix the lease on November 6.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

15 thoughts on “Measure H to Decide TRMC’s Fate

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  1. Only time will tell if the current board and “The Accountability” group did the right thing. They led this revolution to get the hospital closed and reopened under Adventist.

  2. I am in disbelief and disappointed that Drilling and Soares oppose this. Weren’t they behind the current board until they voted to bring Adventist in? I don’t know but I would think that Adventist has had great success in running a hospital. Don’t they like have a whole bunch of hospitals throughout the Country? So who do they want to come in and why? What better offers did the hospital have? Adventist has stepped up to the plate and delivered. We prayed for this and God answered. Amen!!

    • They are advocates for Fresno Community so they aren’t unbiased in their opinions on Adventist. They also don’t speak for the majority of the Citizens group

  3. Concerned too-how do you know that Dr. Drilling and Mrs. Soares are opposed to Adventist? Are you just trying to stir up stuff? They are wonderful women who put in countless hours and money to do what was right for the hospital. Did you know they have had many conversations with Adventist leaders in the last few weeks and at board mtg said they were happy Adventist was here and thanked Mr Randy Dodd for his hard work.

  4. My mother is currently in the reopened Tulare Hospital. She was seen in ER and now in a room. The care is excellent, compassionate, caring, and concerned. The grounds and facility are immaculate and clean. I was one who would not come here under HCCA due to its decline. I am not connected with Adventist and can only say come and see for yourself versus rumors. If you want to go out of town for your family and endure waits then the choice is yours. I have been in Adventist San Joaquin as my wife has. In fact they are going to build a second hospital in Bakersfield. We currently have 6 hospitals. I want to thank the Board for the foresight in choosing Adventist. They had the vision to make this happen. I can not vote on the measure to approve the lease but if I trust to put my 81 year old mother here who has lived here for over 75 years and my dad for 82 years you tell me who I trust.

    • Thank you. I was also for FRESNO Community and I must say AH has exceeded all my expectations. I am so pleasantly surprised. Their staff is so knowledgeable and helpful. You naysayers out there need to tour our hospital and see the miracle they pulled off in 3 short months. Good on them I say and bring on the challenges, I am quite content they will meet them, conquer them and give us great care. And being transparent as they do so!!!

  5. I will be voting yes on Measure H. That said I still would like to have a total accounting of all bond monies I have been paying taxes on. One should not have anything to do with the other. At least in my mind.

  6. Of course Barbara would vote yes. She, like all liberals, is all in when taking tax money from others.

    • Measure H does not raise taxes. It is approval of the lease agreement between Adventist Health and the hospital district. This past year while our hospital was closed more than 9000 serious emergencies were sent to other area hospitals causing long delays. We now have reopened hospital with a quality provider that saw more than 120 people in the ER in the first two days. If Measure H fails the district will be unable to keep the hospital open.

      • Where is my proerty tax money from the 2005 bond for the 2yrs of the closure Chris that Tim Ward stated we were short changed. Sorry “H” is a absolute no for me. Let Barbara go to Kaweah Delta for her free health care.

        • You’ve got waaay too much pulp in your brains OJ. No free healthcare for me…..(wish there was!). I pay high monthly medical insurance premiums to cover all my healthcare needs (Medicare Part B and Supplemental Insurance). As for Kaweah Delta…I did have my last child there (41-years ago). 🙂

    • As a homeowner who lives in the Tulare Local Healthcare District and who “continues” to pay parcel taxes on previous hospital bond monies I would like to see a full forensic diagnostic of just where and when those bond monies were spent. I don’t care how far back they have to go to find out the who-what-and-where of the matter. That said, I am voting in favor of Measure H for the pure and simple reason that we need a hospital in Tulare. Liberals and conservatives alike need a working hospital in this town. I am confident that Adventist will provide the best healthcare that Tulare has had in decades. I wish for the best of all outcomes. I pay property taxes, sales taxes, State taxes, and Federal taxes. So far I have been lucky and don’t need help but I have no problem in helping those who do whenever possible.

  7. @DaveM: do you want the government to come and build you hospital for nothing? you’re more liberal than you realize look in the mirror! Derder.

  8. I’m in favor for measure H. The hospital is in its best condition in 50 years. Adventist health has step up. Tulare is not Beverly Hills people. So stop acting like we deserve the moon. Tulare is a great city and has hope again. Let’s get this approved and get the tower completed. Tulare can have the best hospital in the county with Adventist. The building and grounds are beautiful and clean. The interior of the hospital makes KDH in Visalia look like a junk yard even without the tower. Come together and ride together in Tulare!

  9. So Adventist is there as long as they can get a tax payer sponsored free ride?

    Funny how you liberals think that tax money grows on trees. I am proudly voting no on every begging tax measure and proposition!

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