Opinion

COMMUNITY OPINION: Don’t lose Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital

George Fendler writes that the potential loss of our only hospital is alarming and that the community must do something to prevent this from happening.
Photo courtesy of George Fendler.
Photo courtesy of George Fendler.

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Ten million dollars! Yikes!

We moved to Hollister 38 years ago. I love it here. Hope to never leave.

When we moved here, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital was just what you might expect from a small, rural hospital. They did the best that they could with what they had to work with. It takes money to run a medical facility and that comes with economies of scale. That wasn’t quite there in 1984.

Over the years, I watched the facility grow and evolve into a fine regional hospital. They have achieved a very competent level of care not found in most smaller facilities of this kind. The medical care and empathy of the staff are unique.

It alarmed me when I heard about the potential bankruptcy and even possible closing of the hospital. My reaction is that this cannot be allowed to happen.

A typical home in the county would be valued at $800,000 to $1.5 million. I would expect the physical assets of HHMH to be something over $100 million. Looking at it that way, a loan of 10% of the value shouldn’t be too difficult to obtain. If the facility is well run, the debt service on such a loan shouldn’t be much of a problem, either. It would be similar to taking out a $100,000 second mortgage on a typical Hollister home.

I started thinking about trying to assemble a syndicate of lenders to attempt to fix the problem. What would the consortium members be looking for to make certain that the bail-out would be successful.

  • What is the value of the collateral?
  • What are the on-going expenses?
  • What does the revenue stream look like?

I started to try to get the answers to that. I attended the December board meeting. I was disappointed to not hear any real solutions. The county had been asked to make a loan which would reduce their reserve funds by 50%. Without the answers to the three questions above, they declined. I spoke to my county supervisor and he told me that there had been nothing presented to answer these questions.

Believing that a public entity such as HHMH should provide online access to annual financial reports, I began searching for that information. I wasn’t able to find anything of the kind. I looked at the California Department of Corporations website. I found the Hazel Hawkins Hospital Foundation initially filed in 1978 as an active entity. However, Hazel Hawkins Medical Healthcare Organization has a status of “Suspended-SOS.” I think that means the Secretary of State has suspended the corporate charter of the entity.

So, I ask publicly of the HHMH board, CFO, CEO or even the guy who takes out the trash, “Could you please make public at least the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows from your latest fiscal year?”

Thank you.

George Fendler

GeorgeFendler

I moved to Hollister in 1984. I retired from a large computer manufacturing company in 1994. After several years of consulting work, I started Central Coast Internet in 2000. In 2005, we began providing fixed-wireless broadband to parts of rural San Benito County.