Congressmen-elect Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and John Duarte, R-Modesto, are urging federal officials to declare a local health emergency due to the closure of Madera Community Hospital.
The bipartisan letter, sent Thursday to Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says that the people of Madera County are “hurting” over the loss of their local health care facility and that HHS has existing statutory authority to assist with health emergencies.
The options to intervene include activating the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to provide medical care directly to Madera County residents, and also to fund grants or cooperative agreements to assist other area hospitals now burdened with extra patients, the congressmen said.
Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno, for example, is already facing overcrowding due to the “tripledemic” of patients suffering from COVID-19, RSV, and influenza, with some trauma patients being diverted due to overcapacity.
Some constituents have reported concerns including whether they can keep appointments at a distant health care facility if they lack transportation and whether overcrowding at existing facilities will impact health care.
“The people of Madera County and the Valley deserve nothing less than the same basic and critical health care services afforded to other Americans,” said the congressmen’s letter.
Hospital Struggled Financially
Madera Community Hospital had been losing money and was seeking a financial partnership last year, but after a proposed deal with Trinity Health fell through in December, Madera said it would file for bankruptcy and closed its doors on Jan. 3. Trinity Health’s facilities include Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno.
In addition to the hospital’s closure, its rural clinics in Madera, Chowchilla, and Mendota were scheduled to close at 7 a.m. Tuesday, further limiting access to health care in the county.
How to Get Health Care
Anyone who is unable to access non-urgent care can contact the Department of Managed Health Care Help Center by calling 1-888-466-2219 or clicking this link.
Additionally, Medi-Cal members can contact the Department of Health Care Services Ombudsman Office by calling 1-888-452-8609.