MADERA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – In the wake of Madera Community Hospital’s closure, backlash over if and when it will reopen continues – with criticism now aimed at California State Senator Anna Caballero.
In a letter sent out on Tuesday, May 23, by Deidre de Silva, Chair of the Board of the Madera County Hospital, allegations were directed against State Senator Caballero including references to financial statements being sent – but not being received, state funds outlined for the hospital not being sent in time to prevent its closure, and low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates which would put the hospital back on the brink of closure again.
The letter (which can be downloaded by clicking here) also included a general request that Senator Caballero’s office be used to mediate between all parties to bring about the hospital’s reopening.
“I think that the initial response is just disappointment…this probably could have been mitigated by a phone call.”
Elisa Rivera, Communications Director for State Senator Caballero, says they have working very collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders to try to find a solution.
“We found out a little later in the game, last July, I believe when Rep. Costas’s office contacted us and let us know they were in distress and just a few days prior to that, we had just found out so it kind of came out of left field, but since then, we have really worked diligently to find solutions,” says Rivera.
Rivera says they requested recent financial statements from the Madera Community Hospital board and what they received were statements from June of 2022 and five years prior to that.
“We all know that a lot has happened since June of last year to the present day and so what we were very specifically requesting was what their financial situation was as of right now, and that’s very important because we need to know where they are at and what we are dealing with. And so that is what we have requested and that has not been provided to us,” says Rivera.
Rivera says, to their understanding, the county has also requested the most recent financial statements and has not received them yet either.
“I think we can all agree that we want the hospital reopened and that we do not want any other hospitals to close so we are invested in this, we want to work together to get that hospital up and running,” Rivera says.
In reference to the $5 million that was allocated from the state legislature that the board claims was never received for the hospital, Rivera says that money was requested after the budget cycle had ended and reiterated that they did not know of the turmoil the hospital was in till after the fact of the matter.
“In two days, Senator Caballero was able to get the state to release funds to help them to stay open, in addition to negotiating with Medi-Cal for advanced reimbursements payments so a substantial amount of money was made available. The intention of that money was for them to stay open, that’s what that money was to be used for, for them to stay open, not to pay off debt, it was for them to stay open,” says Rivera.
So where is that money now?
Rivera says the funds were made available ahead of the closure – but there is a process that it has to go through the state first. In the meantime, the hospital administrators were given a letter promising the funds – and that letter would have allowed the hospital to borrow money in order to keep the hospital open. The money itself would have arrived later this year.
In response to the low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, Rivera says they are low and it is an issue that the state has to address and that Senator Caballero is doing so.
“They didn’t talk about the budget allocation that the governor has committed to and that would essentially be $400 million dollars over the next four years to equal $1.6 billion dollars so these are all things being worked on,” says Rivera.
Rivera says they want solutions – and they want the hospital to reopen to service the community.