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As new paint goes up at Madera Community Hospital, judge approves step in reopening plan

A fresh coat of paint goes up at the shuttered Madera Community Hospital on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.
Esther Quintanilla
A fresh coat of paint goes up at the shuttered Madera Community Hospital on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

See more coverage from KVPR on the closure of Madera Community Hospital. 

FRESNO, Calif. – The prospective operator of Madera Community Hospital on Tuesday cleared one of its final hurdles to begin reopening the hospital that has been closed since December 2022.

A federal bankruptcy judge approved a liquidation plan which lays out a process to pay back creditors and transfer ownership over to the new owners.

The approval was not certain at first, since a community group last month submitted a lengthy objection to the reopening plan presented by the owner-to-be, Modesto-based American Advanced Management (AAM).

The objection, penned by the non-profit Madera Coalition for Community Justice, questioned AAM’s ability to operate a facility of Madera County Hospital’s size and with its share of low-income patients.

Representatives of AAM and the hospital’s unsecured creditors presented evidence to rebut the objection, and the judge on Tuesday agreed that allowing intervention in the court’s process would cause undue delay to creditors in the case.

“A motion to intervene earlier in the process could be argued and determined with the input from all sides. The result may not be different, but now is simply too late,” Judge René Lastreto said.

Officials with AAM have said they expect the hospital to be open as early as July, and are already in the process of renovating the facility. Fresh paint is going up at the hospital, located along Highway 99 south of Madera.

This is the closest the hospital has been to reopening since services began shutting down more than a year ago.

Madera Community Hospital was also one of 16 facilities awarded a total of $300 million in loans this month by the state’s Department of Health Care Access and Information.

The funds come from a Distressed Hospital Loan Program that was created last year by legislators to provide urgent funding to struggling hospitals.

Other facilities in the region that received loans include Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in Kern County, and John C. Fremont Healthcare District in Mariposa.

Madera Community Hospital received the largest share, at $57 million. The loan was first announced last summer, but the facility needed a concrete reopening plan in order to gain final approval.

Following the loan announcements, elected leaders expressed optimism about the hospital’s path to reopening.

Esther Quintanilla reports on diverse communities for KVPR through the Central Valley News Collaborative, which includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.
Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.