President of American Advanced Management Inc. Dr. Dupreet Singh at the Aug. 7 San Benito Health Care District board meeting. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.
President of American Advanced Management Inc. Dr. Dupreet Singh at the Aug. 7 San Benito Health Care District board meeting. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.

One month after Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital entered into a non-binding agreement to negotiate with American Advanced Management to lease and eventually purchase the hospital, Madera Community Hospital Chief Executive Officer Karen Paolinelli told the Fresno Bee she had been offered an unsolicited job and a $150,000 check which she said was to “improperly influence” her to choose that company as a business partner. The story about Madera Hospital, which is still closed, was first reported in the Fresno Bee on Sept. 12.

Madera Community Hospital CEO Karen Paolinelli noted in the court records, which were included in the Fresno Bee article, her experience with American Advanced Management Inc. made her feel “very uncomfortable.” 

According to the court filings, Paolinelli met with American Advanced Management Inc. Chief Strategy Officer Matthew Beehler and President Dr. Dupreet Singh on May 30 to discuss the hospital, which is when Paolinelli was given a ‘letter of confirmation’ from Singh, as well as an envelope with a check for $150,000. 

“I informed Dr. Singh, with Mr. Beeler (sic) present, that I would not accept the employment offer and would notify the attorney for [Madera Community Hospital] and the Board of Trustees Chair,” she said in the document. 

She said any decision to move forward with American Advanced Management Inc. would be “a decision of the MCH board solely and then must be approved by the creditor’s committee…” 

Paolinelli said in the documents that she returned the check, along with a certified letter, to Dr. Singh the following day. 

San Benito County residents have raised questions at the California Nurses Association town hall on Sept. 21 and on social media about the tactics American Advanced Management used to secure partnership deals. In social media residents asked whether similar methods have been used with Hazel Hawkins administration or members of the board of San Benito Health Care District. 

BenitoLink contacted the hospital and Hazel Hawkins interim Chief Executive Officer Mary Casillas said that isn’t the case. “AAM has not offered me or anyone in our organization a signing bonus for any reason,” she said.

The district confirmed a dinner had occurred on Aug. 7 with AAM that was then pointed out by a member of the public at the Aug. 23 board meeting. The occasion was with board members Jeri Hernandez and Bill Johnson, Casillas and CFO Mark Robinson and American Advanced Management representatives following a special meeting. 

“The dinner at TPI [Tres Pinos Inn] was to get to know the reps from AAM,” Johnson said. “The hospital picked up the tab. Conversation was typical of a group of adults getting to know each other. Hospital details were not discussed in the group around me. It was a pleasurable time.” 

Jenny is a Hollister native who resides in her hometown with her husband and son. She attended Hollister schools, graduated from San Benito High School, and earned her bachelor’s degree in literature...