Trustees Prepare To Sell Santa Paula Memorial Hospital
At a hearing in Santa Paula Memorial Hospital's bankruptcy case last week, hospital trustees said that they plan to offer Santa Paula Memorial and its property for general sale in less than 90 days unless a party steps forward to reopen the hospital, the Ventura County Star reports (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 3/19). In December, the hospital's board of trustees filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in Santa Barbara, three days after the board closed the facility. Documents filed with the court listed no claims or creditors, but board members have said that not-for-profit Santa Paula Memorial has debts of about $7.5 million and about 400 creditors. Negotiations between the hospital and Ventura County began in June 2003 in an effort to make Santa Paula Memorial -- a 49-bed facility that operated the only emergency department between the cities of Santa Clarita and Ventura -- part of the county health care system to allow the hospital to remain open (California Healthline, 12/23/03). However, the board of trustees and county officials were not able to reach an agreement, the Star reports. Earlier last week, the Santa Paula City Council said that the hospital board and county health officials have until May 3 to reach an agreement to reopen the hospital or the council will consider takeover options, including the removal of the hospital board and condemnation of the land. At the bankruptcy hearing, hospital attorney Jay Michaelson said that if no deal is reached to reopen the hospital, the best use of the land would be residential development. Trustee Carol Burhoe said that the board would use the sale of the hospital and its land to pay off creditors and use any leftover proceeds as "seed money" to join with a partner and open another health care facility, the Star reports. The value of the hospital is about $14 million if operated as a hospital, and the property is valued at $5 million to $10 million as a residential development, according to the Star. However, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that the hospital property is designated for civic institutions and that the city council would have to vote to allow residential development (Ventura County Star, 3/19).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.