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Porterville ready to take Tulare ER patients before hospital care is suspended

The emergency department at Tulare Regional Medical Center will close at midnight Saturday, a day earlier than health district officials have set for all patient care to stop at the hospital.

An official at Sierra View Medical Center said he spoke with the chief nursing office at Tulare Regional at noon Friday and was told that the emergency department would close at midnight Oct. 28.

“Sierra View Medical Center remains ready to support any transfer of patients that can be accommodated from their emergency department,” said Dr. Jeffery Hudson-Covolo, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing executive at Sierra View. “Sierra View Medical Center is prepared to support Tulare and its surrounding communities for emergency and urgent care services, as well as provide comprehensive outpatient and hospitalization services as needed,” he said.

On Thursday, Kevin Northcraft, president of the Tulare Healthcare District, said the medical center and clinics would stop care for patients beginning midnight Sunday. The district issued a notice stating it is voluntarily suspending its license with the state of California to operate the 112-bed hospital, clinics and other outpatient facilities. On Friday, Northcraft said he did not know about the decision to close the emergency department a day early and said information about that would have to come from Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, the company that has been running the hospital for the district.

Healthcare Conglomerate Associates did not return calls Friday to comment on the midnight Saturday closure of the emergency department.

The company and the district board have been in a legal dispute. A federal judge on Wednesday said the hospital could sever its contract with Healthcare Conglomerate Associates and find a new operator. The judge set Nov. 27 for the transition, but the district said the company was not willing to work with the board,and the decision to temporarily suspend the license was a step to avoid the state issuing sanctions and closing the hospital.

The hospitals nearest to Tulare Regional are Sierra View in Porterville, Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia and Adventist Medical Center Reedley.

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter

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