‘Cash-Strapped’ Alta District Hospital to Close Emergency Department, Cut Jobs
As part of a plan to keep Dinuba-based Alta District Hospital open, the facility will close its emergency department at the end of the week and will cut about half of its workforce, the Fresno Bee reports. The hospital's board of directors recently decided to reduce services after it "became clear" that the financially struggling hospital could not continue operations without "drastic changes." Beginning Aug. 25., emergency patients will have to travel about 15 miles to Sierra Kings Hospital in Reedley. The hospital also will close all but one of its 39 beds "for now" and will eliminate 36 of the facility's 74 employees, mainly nurses. Libby Dias, the hospital's patient-access manager, said, "This allows us to keep our license and create some balance in the budget." Patients will be able to receive care at the hospital's clinic, which will expand its hours starting Aug. 27. Officials said that low reimbursement from Medicare and Medi-Cal have contributed to the hospital's financial problems. The city has contributed $1.3 million to the hospital since January and last week provided another $25,000, but city officials say they cannot "afford to do much more." The Bee reports that the hospital is expected to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection to protect it from creditors while a "debt-repayment plan is worked out" (Correa, Fresno Bee, 8/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.