News on health, wellness and health care

The bond rating firm Fitch announced this week that it is downgrading the debt of a Tulare county hospital. The Tulare Local Health Care District saw its rating dip from BBB- to BB+.

The firm cited the hospital’s recent drop in profitability, and dramatic decline in liquidity as factors for the downgrade. The organization believes the hospital’s financial health will stabilize in the remainder of 2012, as a new 24 bed emergency wing is completed at the Tulare Regional Medical Center.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno County is moving forward with a plan to reopen a crisis center for mental health patients. The county closed the center in 2009 due to budget cuts. That resulted in patients being sent to area emergency rooms.

Hospitals say they aren’t well equipped to handle those patients. The new crisis stabilization service will be run by a private contractor, Exodus Health, at the county’s former facility on Kings Canyon Road.

The four year contract with Exodus Health to provide the services for Fresno County is for around $16 million.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When we get sick, this is what most of us want to see a doctor.That’s what the people of the town of Reedley wanted when they voted to establish the Sierra Kings Health Care District. They taxed themselves and sold bonds to build their own hospital. “What individuals felt is that they could really not for their own health care travel 35 minutes to Fresno or Visalia for major health care,” says Kathy Omachi.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Community Regional Medical Center, located in downtown Fresno, is where the poorest of Fresno County residents go for medical care.

“The county was providing the services at the old Valley Medical Center and Community Medical Centers took it over in 1996 for about $18 million a year and providing basically Medi-Cal level services,” says Kevin Hamilton, an administrator with Clinica Sierra Vista.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It's Thursday night, and inside a small classroom at a church in Clovis, a handful of actors have gathered to put the finishing touches on a new original production. 

“Let’s go to the piece where this builds up before you take off into this speech,” shouts the director.

It's a theatre production of a four vignettes plus an original song, all focused an issue that's having a big impact on many Valley residents - obesity.