Tulare hospital district voters gave a decisive “no” Tuesday to the district’s hoped-for bond to complete construction of an addition to Tulare Regional Medical Center.
In order to pass, Measure I needed two-thirds of those voting to support it. Two-thirds of voters rejected it.
Dr. Benny Benzeevi, CEO of Health Care Conglomerate Associates, the private company that operates Tulare Regional Medical Center, expressed gratitude to the campaign volunteers for their hard work.
“We respect the direction the community has chosen and will work hard to bring everybody together to decide on next steps,” Benzeevi said in an emailed statement. “HCCA remains committed to delivering an integrated health-care system that will meaningfully improve the quality of healthcare in our community.”
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Citizens for Hospital Accountability hailed the bond measure’s defeat and said the group will work to elect Kevin Northcraft and Michael Jamaica as new board members in November’s general election, spokesman Joseph Soares said in an email.
“The next step is to replace the current board with new board members who will insist on accounting for the past discrepancies, create an independent board and come up with a transparent plan to complete the construction and move toward improvement of the quality of care this hospital once had,” the email said.
The $55 million bond measure would have assessed properties in Tulare Local Health Care District, including Tulare and surrounding areas, $29.88 per year for each $100,000 in assessed valuation.
Opponents using the slogan Save Our Public Hospital urged a no vote on grounds that the community is at risk of losing control of the hospital. Tulare Regional Medical Center is operated under a long-term contract held by Health Care Conglomerate Associates.
Proponents using the slogan Save Our Hospital urged a yes vote on grounds that passing a bond is the surest way to complete the addition, which would include a larger emergency department with all private rooms, new operating rooms and maternity ward, and larger radiology department.
In 2005, voters passed an $85 million bond to build an addition, but the money ran out before the building was completed. Work largely stopped three years ago.
Tulare Regional Medical Center employs several hundred people and has an annual payroll of $30 million including benefits.