Corcoran District Hospital on financial life support

CORCORAN, Calif.

Corcoran District Hospital has been open for 60 years and nearly that entire time -- the CEO says it's been struggling. Now, a possible take-over by a private company could mean more health care options for this rural community.

Set in a rustic, farming community, Corcoran District Hospital hasn't changed much physically since it opened in 1949. Five years after voters approved an $18 million bond to build a new hospital, officials finally broke ground on the first phase of the new hospital in October 2010. Still, work has moved slowly. CEO Jonathan Brenn says the hospital has been struggling.

Brenn said, "The payer mix in our district is suboptimal especially now with unemployment rising in our area to 16% or more."

Half of the hospital's patients are inmates from nearby state correctional facilities. The district relies on a lot of money from the state to balance their budget and that can work out poorly for the hospital when there's a budget crisis.

After the state decided to reduce its funding to the hospital by nearly $2 million this year, Corcoran's Public Healthcare District is now considering letting private company Adventist Health take over the hospital.

Brenn said, "They govern, they own, they lease the assets or buy the assets which is a very strong ownership position and where the governance of the district would disappear."

Adventist Health recently completed a new hospital in Hanford and is in the process of taking over the failing public hospital in Reedley.

Having the hospital run by Adventist Health could mean more financial support for Corcoran's new hospital plans -- plus more doctors and medical services in town. Patients and former employees of the hospital support the move.

Gayle Cole, former hospital employee said, "I think this would give this hospital an opportunity for the people that are low income who have to travel, not to travel so far. We would have the facitlities we haven't had in years."

Lucy Luna, patient said, "I just hope they get it together and provide Corcoran with a decent hospital so that none of us have to worry about having to go to Hanford, Fresno, or Visalia."

Adventist Health will be making a presentation to the hospital board next Tuesday. If Adventist decides to take over the hospital, voters will have a final say on the issue sometime in the next year.

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