Coalinga's hospital will close by June 15th, CEO confirms

COALINGA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Coalinga Regional Medical Center has provided healthcare services for decades, moving to its current location in the early 1990's.

There's an emergency department, acute care, skilled nursing facilities, and other outpatient services.

But all of those services will end by June 15th, after the hospital's board of directors decided to close the hospital at a meeting on Monday night.

Coalinga's Lori Miller heard the news from her boyfriend.

"People should be able to go somewhere and not have to leave town to do it," Miller said.

Wayne Allen was brought in as the hospital's CEO just three weeks ago.

He says the hospital is financially insolvent and has informed residents and elected officials of its many challenges.

Like many other rural hospitals, he says Coalinga cannot cover the costs associated with inpatient services.

"The inpatient model is kind of broken in rural America," Allen said. "It's difficult to finance and get the staffing resources in small communities and so the movement migration is towards outpatient care."

Allen says he's speaking with larger medical companies about eventually reviving the hospital with a narrow focus on outpatient services, possibly including urgent care.

But in the meantime, he's working with the state to close the hospital carefully.

They're already in the process of transporting patients to other facilities, and 70 residents in skilled nursing care will move to new homes, farther away from their families.

Allen says the emergency department has about 750 visits per month.

Those patients will now have to be transported to Fresno or Hanford by helicopter or ambulance (the city owns two ambulances).

"If they're both out of service carrying patients and a third or fourth call comes in, that's not going to be very nice, because people are going to have to wait, and that's not acceptable," Allen said.

Around 200 employees will be laid off over the next 45 days.

Coalinga's Mayor wants people to know that there are many rural communities going through similar situations with their hospitals.

He believes that Allen will come up with a plan to provide healthcare services for Coalinga.

A notice to be posted at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon states:
"Coalinga Regional Medical Center (CRMC) regrets to inform its community of the pending closure of all its healthcare services. CRMC is unable to continue in business with its weak financial condition. CRMC anticipates that final closure for all of its healthcare services will be on/before June 15, 2018. Some healthcare services may close earlier than June 15, 2018, because employee/physician staffing and vendor support may not be available. If this occurs public notices will be distributed and posted."

"The hospital is licensed for a total of 24 acute care and 99 distinct part skilled nursing beds. The closure of the hospital will result in the elimination of all services, including, but not limited to, all inpatient acute care services and resident skilled nursing care, the hospital's Mobile Unit-MRI, Occupational Therapy, Surgery, Physical Therapy, Respiratory Care Services, Speech Pathology, Emergency Medical Service, and outpatient services provided at Coalinga Regional Medical Center...Coalinga Regional Medical Center Rural Health Clinic...Ralph Neate Extended Care Center..."
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