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Hazel Hawkins finds potential partner to remain opening, pending Board approval

HOLLISTER, CALIF. (KION-TV)- The San Benito Health Care District announced on Thursday, August 3, that a Letter of Intent was received to find a partner to potentially save San Benito's only hospital from closing.

The Letter of Intent was received from American Advanced Management. They currently operate six hospitals and serval medical facilities across the state.

The current LOI is to “lease to own” assets of the District for several years prior to purchasing them outright while maintaining the same level of medical care.

“When we started this process in December, our goals were simple: do all we can to stabilize the finances of the district while maintaining quality healthcare for the community; find a partner or buyer who understood the unique needs of our community; and find a partner who possessed the resources to guarantee a continuum of care delivery for the future needs of our County.  AAM fits with that mission,” said Mary Casillas, interim CEO for Hazel Hawkins.

Now it is up to the San Benito Health Care District board to consider the LOI, make changes they see fit and approve it with the Board and voters. The meeting will take place on August 24th.

Hazel Hawkins has enough money to operate into late summer

Hazel Hawkins's fight to stay open has taken a positive turn as the hospital claims they have enough money to stay open past the late summer.

Cost-saving measures and negotiations with MediCal, Medicare and Anthem are the reasons cash flow is better than expected heading into the second quarter of 2023.

"For the past several months, District leadership along with their consultants, have been looking for ways to better the cash position of the hospital and the District in an effort to stave off a possible bankruptcy filing," said the hospital in an update. "The efforts included receiving or scheduling near-term payments from MediCal and Medicare, as well as Anthem, cost savings measures and reductions in staffing costs. Even so, the financial situation is still critical."

This does not completely save the hospital but it is a positive step forward.

“Our team has begun the process of reviewing the first LOI and we have been alerted that there may be more LOIs submitted in the coming weeks,” said Mary Casillas, Interim CEO for Hazel Hawkins. “The importance of finding the right partner or buyer is crucial for our community as it will pave the way to access to critical healthcare services here in San Benito County.”

State leaders doing what they can to save Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital

Hazel Hawkins is continuing to find ways to keep its doors open.

Operations are continuing as usual, but the hospital is one of many that may be forced to shut down according to State Senator of District 14 Anna Caballero.

“It's estimated that 7 to 8 hospitals may close in the state of California this year and that within the following year, another seven or eight hospitals may close,” Caballero said. “And they're not all rural hospitals. Some of them are in urban centers.”

Not all people living here in San Benito county come to Hazel Hawkins for medical care. Some like Melissa Miller are going to other hospitals.

“When I first started taking him well, when I first got pregnant, I had to go out of town,” Miller said. “And I've had a lot of losses. So it scares me to have to go to a different town if something happens. I would like to go fast and easy, which is here then go somewhere else.”

This isn’t the only thing that’s been brought up as an issue.

“The communication from Hazel Hopkins came in November, December,” Caballero said. “We're done with our state budget at that point. There are…it's impossible when we're out of session. In addition to that.”

I also reached out to State Assembly Member Robert Rivas to get his insight into the Hazel Hawkins situation.

Although he wasn’t available for an interview, he sent a statement regarding the matter saying in part quote:

"Our office has met consistently and worked closely with the Hazel Hawkins team, facilitating meetings at all levels, including with the state treasurer’s office, local government entities, and other stakeholder groups throughout the region.”

State leaders and the hospital have until April to find a solution. At that point, the money would run out and the doors could close for good. 

We also reached out to Hazel Hawkins for any updates. At this point in time, there’s been no change.

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Karl Cooke

Karl Cooke is a Multimedia Journalist for KION News Channel 46


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