County Supervisors Approve Plan To Purchase Santa Paula Hospital
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $2.75 million deal to purchase the bankrupt Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports (Saillant, Los Angeles Times, 10/6). The 49-bed facility, which operated the only emergency department between Santa Clarita and Ventura counties, closed in December. The hospital's board of trustees filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in Santa Barbara three days after the closure.
Supervisors in September voted unanimously to purchase the hospital through a deal with the bankrupt facility's creditors (California Healthline, 10/1).
According to county officials, a rival proposal by the hospital's board of trustees could be considered by U.S. bankruptcy Judge Robin Riblet in the next couple of months. Ventura County administrators said they believe their plan will be approved because it keeps the facility open and pays the creditors (Los Angeles Times, 10/6). Court documents list no claims or creditors for the hospital, but board members have said the facility has debts of about $7.5 million and about 400 creditors (California Healthline, 10/1).
In a separate move, a creditors committee appointed by Riblet would broker the sale of 15 acres of hospital property to an unspecified homebuilder -- a move that is expected to generate about $12 million to be used to pay debts, the Los Angeles Times. The county would be responsible for the remaining 13 acres.
Monty Clark, a spokesperson for the Southern California Hospital Association, said, "[The proposal] is a credit to the health care system in (the county) and the fact that they are able to find money to do this. To work out an agreement where there is no county liability to the creditors is a very good deal."
Supervisor John Flynn said, "Our county is going in the direction of providing more health care and more emergency service. Compare that to Los Angeles County, where hospitals are closing. ... We have a great day for us here."
Sean Walden, a spokesperson for the creditors committee, said, "This result satisfies the needs of all parties. Everyone is a winner" (Los Angeles Times, 10/5).