City Council members in Santa Paula, Calif., have created a public healthcare agency that would step in to reopen the area's only hospital should other efforts to save the facility fail. Council members unanimously voted to form the Santa Paula Community Healthcare Authority to develop a reorganization plan for 49-bed Santa Paul Memorial Hospital, which shut its doors and filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2003 after years of financial struggle. Council members said the new agency would not stand in the way of ongoing discussions between the hospital's board of directors and potential suitors, which include Kare Healthcare, Pasadena, Calif., and Pinnacle Development Group, Scottsdale, Ariz. The 12-member hospital board also remains in talks to roll Santa Paula Memorial into Ventura County's public healthcare system. The City Council decided it needed a backup plan in case the board, which has been criticized for poor management, drops the ball. The hospital board "is apparently reluctant to act in a reasonable and good faith manner to keep the hospital open. Consequently, the City Council is seeking to take action to reopen the hospital," City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz wrote in a May 3 memorandum. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. city creates backup plan for saving hospital
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