Coalinga Regional Medical Center image via Wayne Allen
Written by The Business Journal Staff
The board of Coalinga Regional Medical Center announced the district has filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
The hospital first announced in May that it would be closing its emergency room. A plan to keep the hospital operating under new management failed soon after, and all hospital operations seized in June.
A chapter 9 filing is a type of bankruptcy reorganization available to municipalities and certain governmental agencies. The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Sept. 7 lists estimated assets as well as liabilities of between $10 million and $50 million.
“We have struggled for several years due to low reimbursement rates and declining patient census,” said Sandy Beach, current board chairwoman who has served on the body for more than 15 years.
CEO Wayne Allen said the chapter 9 filing “will best protect patients, employees and citizens of the district.”
“We are confident we can increase our revenues and address our expenses to the point we can reopen and provide health care services,” he added.
Fresno bankruptcy attorney Riley C. Walter represents the district. He said the hospital is the victim of similar forces that led to chapter 9 cases for rural hospitals in Dinuba, Avenal, Corcoran, Reedley, Tulare and Kingsburg.
“By filing chapter 9 the hospital will receive breathing room from pending lawsuits and this will allow the board and staff to refocus on financial rehabilitation rather than putting out fires,” Walter said.
With nearly 16,600 residents, Coalinga’s next closest emergency room is about 40 miles away in Hanford.
“The people of the District need and deserve an acute care facility,” Allen said. “This is more beginning than the end.”