During December 2022, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital first notified the County of San Benito of its untenable financial status. On Dec. 10, 2022, the San Benito Board of Supervisors was given a notice requesting a $10 million loan. The Board of Supervisors and staff recognized the urgent need and wanted to act immediately to maintain the only health services available to San Benito County residents.
So, on Dec. 15, 2022, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution granting Hazel Hawkins Hospital an advancement fund transfer under article XVI, section 6 of the state constitution, which estimated the total of $2,243,445.00 as the total amount of 85% tax revenues that the hospital would have received in the fiscal year 2022-2023. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors approved directing San Benito County staff to explore other solutions to also assist Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.
Additionally, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors, at its regular meeting of March 14, 2023, authorized a letter, strongly supporting a one-time $ 1.5 billion relief package to support hospital care for Medi-Cal patients. The letter was sent on March 15 to Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Board of Supervisors and staff believe the hospital closure in Hollister would create a significant void in health care and to our local economy in our community. We are also aware that currently hospital closures are happening in other parts of rural California. And once a hospital closes, it is incredibly difficult to reopen, let alone reopen with the same level of services that San Benito County residents need, expect, and deserve.
The Hospital funding request of $10 million comes at an inopportune time for the County and its very limited resources because of unexpected and unknown financial challenges. One example of these challenges was caused by the January 2023 flooding incidents. Many families have been displaced and County roads have been damaged during the ongoing rains this year.
The San Benito County Board of Supervisors and staff were able to purchase additional temporary housing for these families in need, staff an emergency shelter, provide emergency food relief, and start the work of repairing numerous damaged roads within the County.
Another example of financial challenges to be considered are the continued rising employee and infrastructure costs. These are just a few examples of financial challenges San Benito County faces.
During these difficult times, the County must make decisions that are prudent, strategic and fiscally responsible of county resources. San Benito County is a rural and not affluent county in our region of the Central Coast of California. San Benito County Administration and staff continue to seek creative ways to help the Hospital.
The County of San Benito understands the importance of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital staying open and shares the same concerns with our county community members, although San Benito County continues to meet with the Hospital to explore creative options for funding and hope we can fully understand the magnitude of the situation by the District transparently sharing their financial information. The County encourages public discourse on the future of the hospital to the greatest extent possible.
We are hopeful that the Hospital will find a strategic partner and continue to make fiscally responsible modifications to keep the Hospital operational. Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital must remain open to members of our community.
We thank all the County of San Benito and Hospital staff who continue to explore options and ideas to help keep the Hospital open in our community.
This guest view was released by San Benito County April 3, via Nixle, as a “community message. The message is reprinted in its entirety above.