Tulare Regional Medical Center reportedly has laid off employees following the stinging rejection by voters last month of a $55 million bond measure meant to finish a stalled hospital tower addition.
Health Care Conglomerate Associates, the company that operates the public hospital under contract, confirmed that layoffs took place but did not how say many people got pink slips.
“The actions taken recently are in accordance with our planned and ongoing strategic realignment of the hospital’s operations,” Vice President of Marketing Kathleen Johnson said in a statement. “We continue to streamline operations, improve efficiencies and health care delivery to our community.”
Kevin Northcraft, a former Tulare city manager seeking election to the Tulare Local Health Care District, said employees are reporting that 29 people were laid off.
The hospital said earlier this year it had a $30 million annual payroll including benefits and employed 500 people.
Last month, the Measure I bond measure failed by a whopping 66.17 percent no vote.
Health Care Conglomerates said it will seek alternative financing to finish the tower.
“To be able to do so, we must ensure that the hospital remains operationally and financially successful,” it said.
Citizens for Hospital Accountability, which led the campaign against the bond measure, said on its Facebook page that a longtime pharmacist and the department head in charge of the laboratory were among those laid off.
“Some politically motivated or misinformed community members may point the finger of blame at our group, claiming that our efforts to defeat the bond led to the layoff,” the group said in a statement.
But the group said the root of the hospital’s problems are in a decline in quality of care – Tulare Regional Medical Center recently received a one-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – and a loss of public trust in the hospital’s board and management.
Attempts to reach Sherrie Bell, Tulare Local Health Care District board president, for comment were unsuccessful.