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California hospital aims for merger after CEO, CFO resign

El Centro (Calif.) Regional Medical Center is looking to a merger to stay afloat after its acting CEO and CFO resigned, the Imperial Valley Press reported Jan. 25. 

Two managing directors from Nashville, Tenn.-based consulting firm Healthcare Management Partners were serving as the hospital's top executives — until the firm issued a termination notice on Jan. 14, and both leaders stepped down. 

The hospital has been struggling financially and recently cut its maternal and child health inpatient services. 

At a Jan. 24 county roundtable meeting, Tomás Oliva — chair of the hospital's board of trustees and a councilmember for the city of El Centro — shared a plan to alleviate financial pressures at El Centro and the nearby Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Brawley, Calif. 

Mr. Oliva believes the hospitals should join together to create a single county healthcare district. Damon Sorensen, CEO of Pioneer Memorial Hospital, expressed interest but specified El Centro would have to solve its own financial woes. 

"It makes sense for the survival of hospital services in Imperial County for there to be one hospital," Mr. Sorensen said in a Jan. 23 email statement. "By accomplishing this, we can increase the reimbursement we receive from government payers and lower the cost of some duplicated services and administrative costs. PMHD is open to discussing how this [can be] achieved."

"We are not interested in assuming the significant debt that [the] El Centro hospital has accumulated and believe that the stakeholders of the community should be involved in determining what the future system looks like," he continued.

El Centro's board has voted to temporarily keep base hospital status as it seeks financial support from Imperial County and other municipalities that use its services, according to the Press.

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