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Health Care Board unanimously approves to continue negotiations with Insight Health to purchase Hazel Hawkins Hospital

HOLLISTER, Calif. (KION) - The San Benito Health Care District have moved one step closer on finding a financial partner for Hazel Hawkins Hospital.

On Wednesday, The Board of Directors unanimously approved to continue negotiations with Michigan based Insight Health.

Insight is looking to pay $59 million to $65 million to purchase the hospital's assets.

Some of the main parts of Insight's proposal includes creating a $50 million capital expenditure budget detailing investment in facilities and operations.

Insight will also look develop a community advisory board with community members and elected officials

"We’re honored by the opportunity to become part of your community and excited to be a
catalyst for expanding care and fiscal stabilization for Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital for generations
to come," Dr. Jawad Shah who is the founder of Insight Health System.

The other proposal was a Joint Powers Authority from San Benito County which would have included the establishment of a operating board.

In a statement to KION following the decision, San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki said:

"It is extremely disappointing that the San Benito Healthcare District Board is pursuing a completely unnecessary sale to a private entity from Michigan that is unproven and would make decisions solely based on profit. This hospital board, elected to represent the public will, has continued to ignore local residents who overwhelmingly want to keep Hazel Hawkins Hospital public. 

The community will not stand for this attempt to put the hospital’s future at risk when there is absolutely no need to sell Hazel Hawkins. Hospital physicians, nurses and community leaders are overwhelmingly in support of keeping the hospital public with local control, and I’m confident voters will agree come November."

While Insight and Hazel Hawkins Hospital could come to an agreement, voters will decide the fate of the Insight Foundation proposal in the November 2024 election.

San Benito Health Care District postpones vote on financial future of Hazel Hawkins Hospital

UPDATE ON MAY 23, 2024 AT 6:41 PM- The San Benito Health District Board of Directors have postponed the vote to decide the financial future of Hazel Hawkins Hospital.

The Board of Directors postponed the vote for another two weeks.

The Board was deciding between two proposals to manage the hospital's assets. The first proposal would includes a Joint Powers Authority from San Benito County and a proposal from Insight Foundation of America.

The hospital has been in financial trouble since 2022 when the hospital declared bankruptcy.

Hazel Hawkins Hospital expected make decision on who will manage the hospital on May 23

UPDATE ON MAY 16, 2024 AT 5:42 PM- The future of healthcare in San Benito County could be decided on May 23.

San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki said that Hazel Hawkins Hospital is planning to hold a meeting to decide which healthcare agency or entity will manage the hospital.

The hospital has been battling the brink of bankruptcy since late 2022.

The San Benito Health Care District has received four proposals, one of them includes a Joint Powers Authority from San Benito County which would ensure that the hospital remains public owned per Kosmicki.

The meeting will be held in-person at Hazel Hawkins Hospital on May 23 at 5 p.m. and will be live via the county's Facebook page.

The three other proposals would involve selling the hospital to private entities.

KION has reached to a spokesperson with Hazel Hawkins Hospital regarding if a decision will be made and we are awaiting to hear back.

In March 2024, the hospital had their bankruptcy filing denied by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Jose.

San Benito County formally sends their letter of intent to manage Hazel Hawkins Hospital

UPDATE ON FEB. 7, 2024 AT 6:16 PM- On Wednesday night, San Benito County has formally sent a letter of intent to create a Joint Powers Authority to manage Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.

County officials said the letter was delivered to the San Benito Health Care District on Tuesday.

The County said the foundation of the healthcare consulting firm ECG business plan is the recruitment of 25 new physicians to the San Benito County.

However, the County's previous agreement did list Salinas Valley Health to manage the hospital. But, county officials said that Salinas Valley Health could not take on a full management of Hazel Hawkins's health facilities or the hospital.

The county is planning to schedule a town hall meeting to talk with community members about the hospital's future.

This is the fourth healthcare agency or entity that has expressed interest in purchasing or managing the hospital within the past year.

San Benito County and Salinas Valley Health looking to manage Hazel Hawkins Hospital

UPDATE ON OCT. 26, 2023 AT 5:21 P.M.- The lone hospital in San Benito County could finally have an answer to their financial future.

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors submitted a letter of intent during Tuesday's board meeting to create a Joint Powers Authority to manage Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.

County leaders are looking to create a JPA which would have multiple stakeholders involved including the cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista along with the San Benito Healthcare District.

As part of the proposed JPA, Salinas Valley Health would become the contacted management agency. Salinas Valley Health would manage Hazel Hawkins Hospital, rural clinics and nursing facilities.

The JPA would have at least two members from San Benito County, at least one representative from city of Hollister and San Juan Bautista, at least two seats from San Benito Healthcare District.

"To meet these needs, it is critical that the hospital remain viable and under local control” said Ray Espinosa, San Benito County Administrator. "We believe that it is possible to maintain the hospital through the proposal outlined in the LOI, and that this is what our community deserves,” said Espinosa in a statement.

This past August, Hazel Hawkins received a letter of intent from American Advancement Management which operates six hospitals throughout the state.

Hazel Hawkins Hospital has been in a fiscal emergency since Nov. 2022.

Original Story

San Benito County is looking to partner with Hazel Hawkins Hospital in the hopes of long-term success.

A joint power authority would include the San Benito Health District, Hollister, and San Juan Bautista.

A report conducted by a third-party consulting firm analyzed medical staff, the financial situation, and a strategic direction.

The report shows shortages of providers, and financial analysis.

San Benito County is proposing a Joint Power Authority. They say this will broaden the governing structure. However, the hospital says they are unsure if the JPA is the right solution.

"We're very pleased that the county wants to play a role in the future of health care for the residents of San Benito County. There are some technicalities within the JPA. We can't really comment on, or take a position on a JPA," says Marcus Young, Spokesperson for Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.

A JPA would allow government entities such as the county of San Benito and the city of Hollister to work together on governing the hospital's operations.

"The reason why we filed for Chapter Nine bankruptcy, there were several reasons we did that. One was so that we could sustain our operations and continue to deliver the quality care that we are delivering today on into the future, while we tried to figure some other things out, such as finding a partner or finding a buyer," says Young.

Fed up with this ongoing situation, nurses are scared for the future of the hospital.

"There has been fear and panic that has caused a mass exodus of nurses and caused healthcare workers leaving Hazel Hawkins," said Ariana Sanchez, a registered nurse at Hazel Hawkins

The hospital tells me they are currently fully staffed.

At the end of the day, no matter what solutions the county proposes to the hospital, it is ultimately the hospital's decision on the future of Hazel Hawkins.

In the presentation, it was noted that more than 50% of the county population is receiving healthcare outside of the county.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.

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Austin Castro

Reporter for KION News Channel 46.

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Derrick Ow

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