The closing of Madera Community Hospital has increased 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 to be the “end of this development corridor” in Madera County’s Rio Mesa area.
“Our plans for the Madera location have always been long-term, future expansion and that hasn’t changed in the short time we’ve learned about the closure of Madera Community,” Michelle Von Tersch, CHS’ senior vice president of communications and legal affairs, told GV Wire this week.
Construction plans for the Madera facility, including a start date, have not been specified.
Von Tersch said the full impact of the hospital’s closure is not yet known, but “we have seen that it immediately affects those local residents who rely on their care and treatment in a region that has been hit hard by a shortage of paramedics and resources.”
State of Emergency in Two Regions
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declared a state of emergency due to the closure of Madera Hospital, which comes as local hospitals are struggling with a high number of patients suffering from COVID, RSV and the flu.
Dr. Danielle Campagne, chief of the emergency department at Fresno’s Community Regional Medical Center, spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting. He said the hospital in the city center was so overcrowded recently that the injured people had to leave 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 the closure of the Madera Community in hopes of prompting state and federal assistance for medical services in the county.
Related Story: Madera Community Hospital Hastens to Close Its Doors
Small Hospitals Face Big Challenges: Duarte
U.S. Rep. John Duarte, R-Modesto, said the Madera hospital could be the first of many to close unless steps are taken to increase patient readmissions and balance costs and revenues. The federal government’s COVID funding has benefited high-end hospitals with surgical centers but not community hospitals like Madera, she said.
Officials are trying to figure out what can be a “sustainable operating model” for mid-sized hospitals, Duarte said, adding: “It’s not worth putting tens of millions of dollars to get the hospital going again if we’re going to continue to lose $2 to $3 million a month because of the structural inadequacy of the public hospital.”
GV Wire reporter David Taub contributed to this story.