Board members share efforts to reopen Madera Community Hospital

Vanessa Vasconcelos Image
Friday, February 10, 2023
Board members share efforts to reopen Madera Community Hospital
The empty building is a stark contrast from what was once a bustling hospital before it was forced to shut down.

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action News got an exclusive look inside Madera Community Hospital weeks after its closure.

The empty building is a stark contrast from what was once a bustling hospital before it shut down on December 30, 2022.

While the exterior may seem like just a shell of what once was, you'll find vacant ICU beds, empty charts and idle monitors in pristine condition inside of the building.

"I want people to say 'I was born in Madera, California, I'm proud to be from Madera, California, and I got the best care in Madera, California,'" said Deidre DaSilva, the chairman of the hospital's board of trustees.

"We were in a joyous time at Christmas and then all the sudden, boom, this hit. We got word that Trinity was not going to be able to make the affiliation with us."

A wreath still hangs in the front lobby of the hospital as only a so-called skeleton crew handles accounting and maintains the property.

Meanwhile, the board is actively looking for solutions and is determined to reopen.

"We have a great hospital, we need to get it open. We never should've closed, it's time."

This hospital treated the Central Valley's first COVID-19 patient.

Ultimately the pandemic, plus workforce shortages, would exacerbate the already existing challenges rural hospitals faced.

"We'll do everything to get it back open and are not quitting. We are working diligently towards that path," said Stell Manfredi, vice chair of Madera Community Hospital.

DaSilva and Manfredi didn't comment on the potential for a hospital district, but did say the board meets 2 -3 times per week to develop a plan and restructure services.

"We need to get medical reimbursement rates up. We're not being paid what it costs us to take care of a patient," DaSilva explained.

"We are also vigorously looking at attempting to attract other hospital organizations to come in here and establish and reopen the facility," Manfredi added.

The hospital filed Chapter 11 in January, to protect assets, but hasn't initiated the bankruptcy process.

That's something Manfredi says would be a last resort.

"We had also 3 rural health clinics. So, when you look at the makeup of who got served by Madera Community Hospital, you can't look at the hospital walls," said Karen Paolinelli, CEO of the hopsital.

Those clinics that opened in 1992 with primary and specialty care in Chowchilla , Madera and Mendota also had to stop services.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called on top U.S. health officials to declare a health emergency.

Business and ag organizations also joining Valley lawmakers in the fight, calling on state leaders to address the public health crisis.

"When there's an emergency, seconds matter. When you have to drive down the freeway 20 minutes, that matters for saving lives. Our hospital needs to be here," Paolinelli said.

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