In a recent letter from the San Benito Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, local elected officials from various jurisdictions notified the public that the San Benito Healthcare District—which oversees Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital—is no longer participating in meetings with the committee as of Feb. 27.
The March 1 letter states that district officials decided not to attend the intergovernmental meetings while the hospital is conducting a “confidential neutral evaluation process” to determine the Hollister medical facility’s long-term financial future. That process is expected to be complete by April 1.
The letter also states that HHMH representatives have told the intergovernmental committee in recent weeks that as of March 1, the hospital “is no longer financially viable as a standalone entity… and they believe the only possible way to avoid a hospital closure is by finding a partner through some level of partnership or acquisition.”
Furthermore, hospital officials expect Hazel Hawkins to run out of cash by April, says the intergovernmental letter.
The hospital board in November adopted a resolution of fiscal emergency, which authorizes HHMH administrators to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The hospital has not yet filed for bankruptcy.
In January, HHMH received a $3 million loan from the California Health Facilities Financing Authority, but is still on track to run out of money next month.
Current members of the San Benito Intergovernmental Advisory Committee are San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki, Supervisor Angela Curro, Hollister Mayor Mia Casey, Hollister City Council member Rolan Resendiz, San Juan Bautista City Council member Scott Freels, San Juan Bautista Mayor Leslie Jordan and County Superintendent of Schools Krystal Lomanto.
Members of the San Benito Health Care District board of directors are Jeri Hernandez, Bill Johnson, Rick Shelton, Josie Sanchez and Devon Pack.
The full text of the March 1 letter from the intergovernmental committee, addressed to “Honorable Community Leaders,” follows:
This letter’s purpose is to update you on the financial crisis at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital upon request from the Intergovernmental Committee. The committee has been meeting with San Benito Healthcare District officials since early February.
The Intergovernmental Committee is made up of officials from the City of Hollister, the City of San Juan Bautista, the County of San Benito, and the San Benito County Office of Education, with Ex-Officio Committee Members of the Hollister School District, and the San Benito High School District.
The committee has held two substantive meetings on the hospital’s financial crisis and has requested further regular meetings with hospital leadership. Committee members have held discussions with a consultant advising the county who was directly involved in the Watsonville Community Hospital sale culminating in 2022, the Hazel Hawkins CEO, and a Hazel Hawkins consultant who is assisting the healthcare district on a potential merger or sale.
Hospital representatives have informed the Intergovernmental Committee that the district is no longer financially viable as a standalone entity as of today, and they believe the only possible way to avoid a hospital closure is by finding a partner through some level of partnership or acquisition. Healthcare district representatives have told committee members they are focused on a partnership, and they are attempting to avoid bankruptcy in order to prevent the significant costs and time involved with that direction. They have informed committee members that the district is currently on track to run out of cash by April.
The Intergovernmental Committee members unanimously agreed to provide this information to local media outlets and respective agencies represented on the committee.
The Intergovernmental Committee, at its special meeting on Feb. 15, also agreed to engage with the San Benito County Healthcare District leadership within two weeks to explore whether there is interest in bringing on an outside consultant with professional experience in this area to develop a business plan, or sustainability master plan, in order to better the hospital’s prospects for financial stability.
The committee felt it was important to formally update you on the latest with this situation. Committee members look forward to hearing from the healthcare district on how we can work together to explore solutions to this financial crisis.
On February 27, 2023, the Intergovernmental Committee was informed that the District would not participate in future Intergovernmental meetings while the confidential neutral evaluation process is on-going. The neutral evaluation process is expected to be completed April 1, 2023, absent extensions.
Members of the Intergovernmental Committee