Closure of Madera County’s Only Hospital Creates Health Nightmare for Residents

The closure of Madera County’s only hospital has significantly impacted health care accessibility for some 150,000 residents. The nearest emergency room is now 20 miles away in Fresno, leaving many without vital health services.

Despite the hardship, county supervisors rejected a proposal last week to hire a consulting group which would have developed options for a reopening plan.  

Some supervisors were concerned that the hospital’s selection of the firm constituted a conflict of interest. There were cost concerns as well; the contract under consideration was for $250,000. There had also been criticism of hospital leadership by staff.  

Madera Community Hospital’s financial problems mirror those of other healthcare facilities in rural parts of the state. California's hospitals lost billions of dollars during the pandemic, despite federal relief. There's concern that MCH's closure could be the tip of the iceberg. 

What happened in Madera “will be replicated in other parts of California” warned Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, in an interview with KQED. Her organization has asked the state for $1.5 billion in funds.  

“While the floodwaters of the COVID pandemic may have receded," Coyle added, "the damage that was done remains widespread. We have more than half of all California hospitals are operating in the red, losing money on every patient that they care for.”