Tuolumne County Considers Options for Public Hospital
Tuolumne County supervisors on Tuesday directed staff to report on financing and construction costs for a hospital facility to replace the current Tuolumne General Hospital building in Sonora, a project that is estimated to cost $40 million, the Modesto Bee reports. The facility must be rebuilt to comply with state seismic safety rules.
County personnel in two weeks will outline proposals for a bond measure or parcel tax on the November ballot to fund the hospital project. Some residents at the meeting suggested creating a sales tax to fund the hospital or charging other counties for psychiatric services provided at the hospital to their residents.
County Administrator C. Brent Wallace said money from the county general fund could be used to finance the project, but the county would have to pay $6 million annually in debt payments and subsidies to maintain hospital operations (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 3/1).
Tuolumne County last year contributed $3 million to hospital operations.
The hospital provides acute care and surgical services and has treated 6,800 emergency department cases since July 2005 (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 2/28).
According to the Bee, the vote to seek a report delays a decision on proposed service reductions at the hospital.
Wallace asked supervisors to convene public hearings to consider reducing services at the hospital, including in its psychiatric unit, long-term care and a day-care program for adult residents with certain conditions (Modesto Bee, 3/1).
Wallace also proposed closing the 79-bed hospital and having the county focus on administering health clinics. If supervisors approve the proposal, public hearings will be required before the facility could be closed (Modesto Bee, 2/28).