When Coalinga Regional Hospital shut its doors last year and declared bankruptcy, residents in the community had to resort to hospitals outside the area, the closest being nearly 60 miles away. But all of that is coming to an end far more quickly than had been thought possible. CRMC will be opening as soon as possible which could mean: just a matter of days.
American Advance Management Group of Modesto (AAMG) contracted with the CRMC board to re-open the hospital to the same capacity it had been under its old license. This means that the same services would be provided locally as had been before the closure. Some of those services include emergency care, radiology, lab, skilled nursing facility and a rural clinic.
After months of slogging through miles of bureaucratic red tape, Governor Gavin Newsom sliced through the mess and made approvals and licensing a cinch. There was little Newsom wants more, currently, than more hospital beds available.
Due to the predicted surge of Covid-19 patients, there is currently a need for a high volume of hospital beds in California. Based on algorithms, the surge should arrive in the coming week or so, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Because of that high demand, Governor Gavin Newsom requested use of the Navy hospital ship, USNS Mercy, which will be docked in the harbor of Los Angeles and will be used as an overflow for routine care not involving Covid-19. The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy left its former berth in San Diego, and arrived in Los Angeles already. Staff has reported to the ship, adding to the over 800 naval medical staff members already on board. The ship can house 1,000 patients and is not intended for use with Covid-19 patients. Mercy will be used for routine patients needing hospitalization if or when a surge of Covid-19 patients appear.
The California Department of Public Health has a preliminary plan to treat Covid-19 patients in facilities well equipped to handle a high volume of critical care patients. This automatically excludes CRMC as a probable location for Covid-19 patients. Newly opened facilities, for the most part, will reportedly be used for displaced patients with common illnesses or procedures.
Peter Zeitler, attorney for CRMC explained that it is possible that Covid-19 patients may end up in Coalinga’s hospital, but it is not likely. He reported that CEO of AAMG Dr. Gurpreet Singh said the hospital will open as planned, for the use of the public, serving Coalinga and the surrounding areas.
“We are experiencing an extraordinary development with the superfast re-opening of the hospital,” CRMC Board president Bill Lewis stated at the beginning of the telephonic board meeting. “But these are extraordinary times.
“We appreciate that many of you are disturbed about the potential of the hospital being used for Coronavirus treatment – that you may imagine this as a Zombie apocalypse happening here in Coalinga. We hope you will not obsess on this negative view.
“We don’t know how this will play out, but we need to remain calm and stay informed rather than seize upon and reinforce each other’s fears.
Before the state stepped in, CMC (Dr. Singh) was involved in the long, bureaucratic process of obtaining the various licenses and progress was very slow. Under the current scenario, all roadblocks to licensing have been removed and CMC can open as soon as they get the equipment up and running.
“Is it possible it will function as a virus-only facility initially? – Probably not. (according to former CEO Wayne Allen and Attorney Peter Zeitler).
Is it possible it will serve multiple patients? – Yes.
Is it possible it will evolve into a regular acute care hospital over time? – Yes.
Is it possible after the surge is over that the hospital would close again? – It will depend on community support. Loss of community support helped close the hospital two years ago.
“So, in a way, we control our own destiny.“
CRMC is actively recruiting staff for the facility. Those interested in working there may send in their resume and apply for a position through: https://americanadvanced.hcshiring.com/jobs
If you are interested in a specific position that is not listed on the site, please apply under the position “volunteer” and be sure to state what position you want that is not listed. CRMC staff will go through those and add positions as they become aware of missing spots.