Tulare County medical facilities receive millions in federal funding

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Money from Washington, DC is making its way to Tulare County. Millions of dollars in federal funding are now in the hands of South Valley hospitals.

"Our hospitals have endured so much this past year and have been hit so hard," said Carrie Monteiro, PIO, for the Tulare County Health and Human Services.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have been nonstop and feeling the financial impact. Kaweah Health CEO Gary Herbst says they are one of many working in the red.

"Unfortunately because of the Delta Variant and the surge, our fiscal year starts July 1st, and 4 months in -- we had already posted a $9 million operating loss," said Kaweah Health CEO Gary Herbst.

He says that elective surgeries were paused because of the high rate of COVID cases in Tulare County, leading to a huge revenue loss. But incoming federal funding is helping alleviate some of that financial pressure.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently released $8.5 billion across the country through the American Rescue Plan.

Kaweah Health received $5.8 million.

"Lifesaver to us in many ways. Our $5.8 million is based on all the rural patients we saw in clinics as well as patients who live in rural already who came to the hospital for their care."

In addition to Kaweah Health, more than 50 Tulare County Health care providers received federal funds. That includes Adventist Health Tulare, which received $259,196.

"This amount will go toward offsetting the extraordinary expenses incurred in caring for our community members who needed to be hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19 and keeping our staff, patients and all other guests of our facilities safe throughout the pandemic. In addition, we will use this funding to continue expanding access to quality care and investing in new ways to care for our communities based on the opportunities for learning that the pandemic has presented us with."

Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville says the funds they've received helped maintain their workforce during the hardest times of the pandemic.

The Tulare County Health Department says it's been a struggle to increase vaccination rates. They are encouraging people to get their shots, saying higher vaccination rates means fewer people in hospital beds.

"Beds have been taken up so much by sick COVID patients who are not vaccinated, so the best way to help local hospitals is to get vaccinated," said Monteiro.

Another round of money is expected from the federal government next year.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.