Community Health Defends Quality of Care at CRMC After Arias Calls for Investigations – GV Wire
A Fresno city councilman is calling for state and federal investigations into how a Fresno-based private nonprofit hospital system spends its government funding for health care.
Miguel Arias told a Wednesday afternoon press conference at City Hall that he wanted to hold the community health system accountable while also demanding more transparency in how the organization does business.
Arias says the CHS is failing in its mission to provide quality health care for all. Based on a recent series of Fresno Bee stories, Arias says the hospital system is wrong to “divert” revenue generated by patients from his downtown Fresno hospital and instead spend it on its “wealthy” Clovis campus. He says this puts patient safety at Community Regional Medical Center at risk.
“Taking $1 billion from the poor may not be illegal, but it’s wrong. It’s unethical and will cost the lives of our city’s most vulnerable,” Arias said.
The community responds to criticism
In response to The Bee series and comments from Arias, CHS issued a statement to GV Wire defending its ongoing $430 million expansion of Clovis Community Medical Center and the quality of care provided at CRMC.
“Our proud flagship, the Community Regional Medical Center, has 685 beds and is one of the largest and most advanced facilities in the state. We have continued our significant growth at both facilities since 2007,” said Michelle Von Tersch, senior vice president of communications and legislative affairs for CHS.
“We will continue to invest in our downtown campus. CRMC’s facilities are in excellent condition and meet all applicable standards in force, including seismic standards. Any suggestion to the contrary is false. We have a responsibility to our region to provide care to everyone who needs us, regardless of their ability to pay or where they live.. This is part of our mission and we are very proud of it.
Von Tersch also noted that since 2007, CRMC has added 285 inpatient beds and Clovis Hospital has added 288 inpatient beds.
CRMC is the only Level I trauma center between Los Angeles and Sacramento and serves a service area of 15,000 square miles.
Arias asks hospital to release financial documents and board minutes
Arias said he once gave CHS the benefit of the doubt. No more, he said.
“This pardon must now end, given the clearly documented intentional actions to divert more than $1 million from the most vulnerable residents to our state’s wealthiest and most assured residents,” Arias said.
Arias said the hospital system no longer deserves to be called “Community” if it chooses Clovis over Fresno.
The downtown councilman cited concerns from anecdotal evidence about the lack of quality at the Fresno facility, ranging from a lack of privacy to long wait times.
He called on the hospital to release its board minutes and financial data. Because it is a private company, the hospital system is not obligated to share this data, as a government agency would be.
“They can start by being transparent if they claim to have done everything right,” Arias said.
Arias plans five actions
Arias said he would take five actions:
- Hire legal counsel, through the successor Redevelopment Agency, to review Fresno’s redevelopment agreements with CHS;
- Ask the hospital to drop its efforts to delay the 2030 deadline for earthquake modernization. Arias said he would use the city lobbyist in Sacramento to fight such a request if necessary;
- Have the state attorney general’s office investigate the community’s nonprofit status and whether board members have properly disclosed conflicts of interest;
- Ask Federal Inspector General, Rep. Thorough Jim Costa, D-Fresno, to verify whether federal resources have been spent properly;
- Ask the state auditor to carry out an evaluation of the performance policy on the use of state resources.
Can Fresno residents get care at Clovis?
When asked if Fresno residents could access services at Clovis Hospital, Arias said they could, but often lacked transportation to get there. He also noted that there is no bus route between Fresno and Clovis Hospital.
“Technically, you’re right. I can drive myself, as an insured patient, to Clovis for medical services. … (However) there is no way for the uninsured who don’t have a vehicle to come to Clovis ER for help,” Arias said.
Arias also said he was concerned about how and where homeless people receive hospital care. He says they’re more likely to be cared for in downtown Fresno rather than Clovis, based on what he’s seen.