Although Coalinga Regional Medical Center and American Advanced Management Group agreed on a management services agreement for Coalinga’s only hospital, one last hurdle must be conquered if possible. The State of California itself has thrown a wrench into the plan.
The state of California has a centralized applications unit (CAU) connected with the California Department of Public Health. All licensing for health care facilities go through this agency. The initial concern was that this entity had a backlog of cases ahead of CRMC’s paperwork. But that was far from the only chink in the procedure.
When CRMC stopped seeing patients at its Emergency Department and stopped admitting patients to the facility, the CAU determined it to be the date of closure. CEO Wayne Allen has argued that the hospital was not entirely shut down as it still had the skilled nursing facilities, Ralph Neate Center on Phelps and Maple and the Rural Health Clinic in operation .
This is a major obstacle,” said Allen. “They believe that as we were closing down, that technically we were closed in early May.”
Allen argues that this is not the case and has been tackling the problem continuously since it became apparent that this was going to be a sticking point to hinder the reorga- nization and re-opening of CRMC.
“When they take that kind of stance,” said Allen, “you have to go through a very time-consuming and very costly re-start.”
The problem is not going to go away, and although the rationale for being able to re- open the facility in a timely manner makes sense to Coalinga residents, it does not seem to sway the CAU.
“They (CAU) have a position and don’t seem to be wavering.” Allen’s frustration is apparent. “I can see their point but we are still trying to work this out.”
Explaining further, Allen continued. “We rescinded CRMC’s closure on June 4, but that is meaningless if they (CAU) define it as already closed.
The challenge with a complete closure is that the facility will have to go through a much more in depth, time consuming and expensive process to be able to re-open. The time could be several months and even up to full year.
“We won’t be able to fast track the project because of the CAU’s rules,” said Allen, stating that he had already attempted to persuade CAU to give CRMC leniency due to an emergency exception based on limited access to health care in the Coalinga area.