As long-time members of the Medical Staff of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, we write this letter to express our support for Mary Casillas, Interim CEO, as well as the rest of the Administrative Team.
The District, like many small hospitals in California, has been faced with significant challenges since COVID-19. As the recent fiscal crisis loomed, Mary and the Administrative Team wasted no time in reaching out to city, county, state and federal representatives for assistance on all levels, and have remained in contact with these resources on a regular basis. Results of these interactions include advancement of property tax money from the County, as well as the emergency passage of Assembly Bill 112 Distressed Hospital Loan Program by the State legislature to approve $150 million in loans to struggling California hospitals.
We have appreciated that Mary has been very open and pro-active in communicating with staff and public during this stressful period to keep us informed with regular updates, including a weekly update to the Medical Staff. The tone has been upbeat, supportive and encouraging.
By working with staffing and vendors, Mary and the Administrative Team have managed to keep the District afloat since December. Cost-cutting measures and hiring freezes were implemented. The former gym property was sold. The Hospital, Clinics and SNFs remain open, there has been limited impact on services, and the District is in much better shape than when the fiscal emergency was declared.
The Administrative Team negotiated with Medicare to reduce re-payment rates on the over- payment to a more manageable level. They reached out to insurance carriers for any assistance/loans they could provide. With Mary’s leadership, they reached an agreement with Anthem Blue Cross for a new contract to keep patients in-network beginning January 1, 2023.
With the Board’s support, the decision to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy was made so that the District could continue operations while reviewing and re-negotiating debts and contracts to more sustainable terms. It was also identified that the District needs a compatible partner in order to help with capital needs and be viable long-term, so efforts were initiated to seek such an alliance.
Mary was born and raised in Hollister, has strong family roots going back generations, and is committed to keeping health care in this community. She may be new to executive leadership, but she has almost 30 years of experience working in the healthcare field, management experience in Radiology, and a master’s degree in Health Care Administration. She brings positivity, determination, strength, warmth, and knowledge to her position.
We feel that the Board of Directors made the right decision in appointing Mary as Interim CEO, and we support her efforts. The enormous efforts and accomplishments documented above speak to dedication way above and beyond the call of duty.
Benedict T. Carota, M.D.
Enis Martinez, M.D.
Zarin Amin, D.O.
Ralph Armstrong, D.O.
M. Aslam Barra, M.D.
Arminda Tolentino, M.D.
Vivek Jain, M. D.
Julian Nguyen, D.O.
Russell Dedini, M.D.
Zainab Malik, M.D.