The sad saga of the failed Corcoran District Hospital may soon be coming to a close. The hospital board has scheduled a public hearing for next week to accept community input in its proposed action to sell the building and all remaining hospital assets, including its surrounding properties.
The sale will require a vote of the public and the item is expected to appear on the November ballot. Voters must approve it by a 50.1 percent margin for any sale to proceed.
The hearing will be held Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the city council chambers.
The hospital closed three years ago after failing to follow through with plans to construct a new facility. Corcoran voters approved an $18 million bond for the construction; however, the hospital purchased property, built a parking lot and installed underground infrastructure before collapsing under debt.
According to Mike Graville, president of the current board, the hospital was $6.4 million in debt before it closed its doors. A new board has continued to pay down the debt over the past three years, with about $1.8 still owed to creditors.
Graville said he expects the sale of the assets to raise at least $1.3 million which can be used to almost completely clear the debt.
The majority of the money owed will go to reimburse Medi-Cal and Medicare for overpayments they sent to the hospital when the facility was in operation. Graville said a current payment of over $400,000 to Medicare is being audited and may be reduced.
“We did not over-charge them,” noted Graville, “They paid right away, then reviewed their payments and determined they overpaid. We are still negotiating those overpayments.”
The board has also almost completely cleared the hospital’s 1999 bankruptcy obligations.
Thus far, he added, the board has saved the hospital district $1.1 million by negotiating repayments to vendors, including Medi-Cal and Medicare.
Graville also noted that four board seats are open in the November election. The filing period opens later this month and ends in mid-August.
The hospital district will continue to operate and still receives funding from property taxes. That money has been used to pay down the debt and can be used for health-related activities within the district’s boundaries.
Payment of the debt does not clear local residents of the bond obligation. The $18 million approved by voters, despite the hospital bankruptcy, still has to be repaid and is taken as part of each property owner’s property taxes each year.