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An Update on Our Master Plan

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An Update on Our Master Plan 

Recently, we have received some media attention for our efforts to address the need for new patient care space, both to modernize care and replace 206 beds in the Mineral King Wing, which opened in 1969. State regulations currently say we can’t use this building for inpatient care past 2030 because the building doesn’t meet current earthquake standards. These news articles were the result of media requests that we received from local newspapers. We are very much still in the planning stages of this project, but we are committed to transparency so we agreed to interviews with these reporters.

The latest update on the master facility planning is that while there are many unknowns, namely whether the State will push back the 2030 deadline for this unfunded mandate as hospitals struggle financially to recover from COVID losses, we continue our planning process. We are actively participating in advocacy efforts to change or delay the seismic law, but in the meantime we continue evaluating the development of a single 240-bed replacement tower as authorized by the Board back in December 2021. The Board made its decision after gathering feedback and input on two replacement tower options from employees, Medical Staff, and the public, along with 20 diverse stakeholder groups.

The one-tower replacement concept, which would include a new pharmacy, a new dietary and cafeteria area, a 500-space parking structure and, most likely, new operating rooms, was chosen for a variety of reasons including projections that it would cost nearly $150 million less than the two-tower option. We’re working with our architect, RBB, in the next phase of planning including more work on design concepts, the services it will contain, and cost estimates.

As the design process moves from conceptual to more detailed, we will be working closely with employees, the Medical Staff, and our community on the specific design of the patient rooms, the nursing units, and all of the ancillary facilities. This new tower will serve Kaweah Health and our community for decades to come and will play a critical role in helping us attract physicians and staff. According to a 2020 study by Sg2 consulting firm, in Tulare County, we are short 178 physicians across all medical and surgical specialties needed to care for our community. Newer, more modern facilities, which are home to state-of-the-art technology like the facilities that physicians have trained in, will allow us to be more competitive in recruiting and retaining the physicians we need to serve this community. We also strongly believe that our amazing staff members and volunteers deserve to work in more modern and efficient facilities.

Will we have to issue a new general obligation bond to help pay for the tower? The short answer is yes, but we are committed to paying for as much of this project as we safely can and we will only go to the community for what we need. The soonest we would consider seeking voter approval for a general obligation bond would be late 2024. Still, it’s hard to say how much a bond would be or when it would go to voters because there are still so many unknowns. We hope to have more answers this summer, and will share those details as they become known.

Once we have more information on designs, cost estimates, or any updates from the State on deadlines, we will come to you with that information so that you can ask questions and provide feedback. We are planning a very comprehensive employee and community engagement effort over the next two years.

Kaweah Health is a public health system, and we are entirely committed to caring for this community. A new hospital wing to replace the 50+ year old Mineral King building will allow us to continue serving our community for another 50 years.