Community Health: ‘No Plans to Hasten Highway 41-Madera Health Care Facility’
The closure of Madera Community Hospital has intensified the patient load at area hospitals but is not prompting Fresno-based Community Health System to accelerate its plans for a health care facility on Highway 41 in Madera County.
CHS had announced in 2017 the purchase of 200 acres at the northeast corner of Highway 41 and Avenue 12 for “an eventual facility in this prime development corridor” of Madera County’s Rio Mesa area.
“Our plans for the Madera property have always been for a possible long-term, future expansion and that hasn’t changed in the short time we’ve learned about Madera Community’s closure,” Michelle Von Tersch, CHS senior vice president for communications and legislative affairs, told GV Wire this week.
Construction plans for the Madera facility, including a start date, have not been specified.
Von Tersch said that the full impact of the hospital’s closure is not yet known, but “we have seen it immediately affect those area residents who depend on its care and treatment in a region that is already tremendously impacted by a shortage of health care clinicians and facilities.”
State of Emergency in Two Counties
On Tuesday the Fresno County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency because of the Madera hospital’s closure, which comes just as area hospitals are strained by large numbers of patients suffering from COVID, RSV, and influenza.
Dr. Danielle Campagne, who is the emergency department chief at Fresno’s Community Regional Medical Center, spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting. She said that the downtown hospital was so crowded recently that it had to divert trauma patients out of the area. CRMC is the only Level 1 Trauma Center in central California.
Last week, Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue declared a state of emergency following Madera Community’s closure in hopes that it would result in state and federal aid for medical services in the county.
Related Story: Madera Community Hospital Accelerates Closing Its Doors
Smaller Hospitals Face Big Challenges: Duarte
U.S. Rep.-elect John Duarte, R-Modesto, said that Madera’s hospital could be the first of many to close unless steps are taken to increase patient reimbursements and balance costs with revenues. The federal government’s COVID relief funding benefitted higher-end hospitals with surgery centers but not community hospitals like Madera’s, he said.
Officials are trying to determine what would constitute a “sustainable operating model” for mid-tier hospitals, Duarte said, adding: “There’s no use putting tens of millions of dollars into getting the hospital going again if it’s going to continue to lose $2 to $3 million a month because of structural disadvantages that the community hospital has.”
GV Wire reporter David Taub contributed to this story.