Hospital Versus Clinic

Defining Moments in the course of Coalinga

AN EDITORIAL by Mary Blyth Jones, Owner/Publisher of Coalinga Press

Every city goes through changes and transformations. Some of those are no-brainers; easy decisions and choices. Others are more difficult.

In Coalinga we are facing such a change. After losing the only complete medical facility, Coalinga REgional Medical Center, last year due to mismanagement and questionable practices, the city and her residents went through a phase of near mourning. People were selling their homes and moving away because they felt a hospital was that vital to the growth and sustaining of Coalinga.

There was a measure on the ballot: support of a local acute care hospital.measureR

“Dr. Singh is taking a major risk by coming to where a nice hospital failed and restoring the same services which ultimately resulted in a closing,” explained CRMC board president, Bill Lewis. But even as the ink was drying on the proposed lease contract between Coalinga Regional Medical Center District and Coalinga Medical Center LLC, another element muddied the waters.

Adventist Health has moved toward purchasing a plot of land near the intersection of  Elm and Polk Streets where they propose to build a larger scale of their current clinic which is housed in a rental property in Coalinga. The newer site would allow them to see more patients and offer more services.

The current Adventist Group clinic does not take privately insured patients.
It only accepts those who are on Medi-Cal and Medicare. Many residents in Coalinga would not be able to access health care through that facility.

Because of the added financial risk that the competition of a larger clinic would bring, Dr. Singh requested that the following “Option to Terminate” be added to the lease
agreement between CMC, LLC and CRMC. This option offers the lessee, (Dr. Singh’s CMC, LLC), the option of terminating any and all agreements with a written notice if Adventist Health or any other Federally Qualified Health center (FQHC) is approved to operate within the city of Coalinga or within a reasonable radius from the hospital.

Lessee shall have an option to terminate the Lease if during the Lease Term Adventist Healthcare or any other healthcare operator is approved to operate a rural health clinic or Federally Qualified Health Center (“FQHC”) within the city of Coalinga or within a

reasonable radius from the hospital whereby both will compete for patients (“Termination Condition”). Upon the occurrence of Termination Condition, then Lessee, at its option, may terminate this Lease at any time by providing the Lessor written no-
tice (“Termination Notice) with the lease termination occurring ten (10) days after the mailing of the Termination Notice. Upon the occurrence of lease termination,
if at all, the Lessee shall have no further rights or obligations with respect to the Lease and Lessor shall have no further rights or obligations with respect to the Lease. Lessee acknowledges that Adventist presently operates a rural health clinic in Coalinga and that this termination option shall not be triggered by the continued operation by Adventist of its present clinic.

“In order to have a financially sustainable hospital it is very important that the hospital’s projected business model includes rental on any existing vacant clinic space. The pres-
ent hospital campus includes about 13,000 square feet of vacant clinic space,” said CEO Wayne Allen. “Dr. Singh recognizes the existing status quo of Clinic operations within

Coalinga and is willing to compete against those operations. Singh is adamant about having the existing vacant 13,000 square footage at the hospital occupied before any new
capacity is developed in Coalinga.”

The vacant footage is located in the two story medical pavilion building. “When Dr. Singh/CMC, LLC asks for a non-competing clause in the lease agreement,” explained Lewis, “he is only protecting himself from the same siphoning away of patients that occurred in the past. If the citizens want the new hospital to succeed, they will need to demonstrate some semblance of loyalty by using the hospital in as many instances as possible.”

Most Coalinga residents understand the importance of quality medical  care provided within the city. Many residents, medical staff, and others will be watching for developments in this situation.

The above measure was ratified by OVER 90% of the voters.

Yet Coalinga’s Planning Commission seems to have a maggot in their collective brain, suggesting that having a clinic at the cost of the hospital is a fair trade. Attention Planning Commissioners: Coalinga voters overwhelmingly put their wishout out there before anyone demanded to know that they thought community-wise.

Why would a planning commission intentionally vote for a project which will very likely cause the pospital project to be abandoned by the people that Coalinga carefully selected to revamp the facility and run it?

Why would the planning commission choose to eliminate the possibility of the former skilled nursing facilities from reopening when American Advanced Management Group dumps its Coalinga Commitment?

Coalinga cannot expect AAMG to remain faithful to its original goal when the city itself is choosing (yes, choosing) to scrap the entire plan.

[Note: More is coming to the page. But it’s late at the moment. Thank you.]