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February 2, 2023

Hazel Hawkins gains $3M loan from state

Funds will allow hospital to stay open past Feb. 18, officials say

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital recently received a $3 million loan from the state, according to hospital officials. 

The loan comes from the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. The loan will allow the Hollister hospital to extend the timeline it needs to find a strategic partner who can help improve Hazel Hawkins’ financial situation, says a press release from HHMH. 

As of December, Hazel Hawkins was estimated to run out of operating funds by Feb. 18. Hospital officials think that more funding is needed to extend the deadline to find a partner to at least September. Such an extension would provide HHMH with “sufficient time for (the) marketing process and to close a deal with a strategic partner,” says the release. 

“With this loan and other operational savings endeavors, we have extended the date the District will run out of cash to mid-March,” said Mary Casillas, Hazel Hawkins’ Interim CEO. “Part of our long-term plan moving forward is to continue to search for additional funding and strategic partnership opportunities along with evaluating our daily operations to identify and implement cost saving measures to continue to extend that date.” 

Hazel Hawkins’ board of directors on Nov. 4 approved a resolution of a fiscal emergency, which authorizes the hospital’s administrators to file a petition under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The hospital has not yet filed for bankruptcy.

Less than a month before that, the hospital board ended its contract with former CEO Steve Hannah. Appointed as interim CEO was Mary Casillas, who was formerly Hazel Hawkins’ Chief Operating Officer. 

At a special meeting Dec. 15, the county board of supervisors rejected a request from Hazel Hawkins staff for a $10 million loan. Hospital staff said that amount would have significantly helped Hazel Hawkins stay open through the fiscal emergency. 

The board, however, agreed to advance the hospital’s expected payment of $1.1 million worth of property taxes. The payment would have been due to Hazel Hawkins in April 2023 as a regular disbursement of property tax revenues. The hospital was also scheduled to receive about $1.1 million for its December property tax revenues, according to HHMH staff. 

In late December, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital employees received notices indicating the Hollister hospital could close as soon as February 2023, according to HHMH administrators. 

The hospital’s issuing of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARN) to its employees follows a string of unfortunate financial announcements from Hazel Hawkins—including staff wage cuts and a hiring freeze. 

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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