Staff at the former Tulare Regional Medical Center are anxious to reopen the hospital in this Oct. 15, 2018 photo, after a one-year closure.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
A year after filing for bankruptcy and closing its doors, the people of Tulare are ready for the reopening of their public hospital.
With their license reactivated on Friday, the hospital will once again open its doors Monday morning. In the meantime, officials have been doing code practice and drills to get the staff ready. Currently, 260 people are on board to work for the hospital, with more being hired. Among those returning is Kasey Castro, head emergency room nurse.
“The morale is really high and we were really excited that we have had a high percentage of previous employees that came back and applied to come back to work. They loved working here before,” she said. “So they love to be able to be welcomed back, and all the new faces we have as well.”
The Tulare Local Healthcare District (TLHCD) voted in September 2017 to file for bankruptcy. In October, the hospital’s license was suspended. In the nearly four years leading up to this decision, the hospital had been under the management of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), headed by Dr. Yorai “Benny” Benzeevi. In that time, the hospital ceased to pay vendors while hospital revenues dropped. The quality of care also began to sharply decline.
Dr. Benzeevi and HCCA are currently under investigation by the office of Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward.
In June, the TLHCD board voted 4-1 to enter into a contract with Adventist Health. The help they offered included a $10-million line of credit, most of which has been used to renovate and prepare the hospital.
Randy Dodd, vice president of business development for Adventist Health in Central California, will act as interim executive for the hospital.
“The staff here at Tulare is amazing,” Dodd said. “Everybody has done a tremendous job, certainly over the last three months that we’ve been here. Some of the staff that was here when we got here did a fantastic job of keeping the hospital ready to be opened.”