Shuttered California hospital had history of patient safety issues

Madera (Calif.) Community Hospital was fined and reprimanded for numerous state and federal health and safety violations before its closure in December 2022. Between 2016 and 2022, the hospital was hit with at least six immediate jeopardy warnings from state regulators, according to inspection reports reviewed by The Fresno Bee

According to inspection reports reviewed by the news outlet, the hospital faced violations related to physical and sexual abuse of patients, inadequate monitoring of suicidal patients, surgical errors and substandard sterilization of surgical equipment. 

In May 2020, state regulators issued an immediate jeopardy warning at the hospital after two patients were physically and sexually abused by a male nurse. The hospital's chief nursing officer at the time told investigators she never expected a nurse to abuse patients and that when notified, he was "gone in minutes." Months later, a different nurse pushed a patient to the ground outside of the emergency department during an argument, according to the inspection report cited by the Bee. In that case, the patient's head hit concrete and he suffered a brain hemorrhage, resulting in an immediate jeopardy designation. 

In an email to the news outlet, the hospital's CEO, Karen Paolinelli, said managers in "key areas of concern" were replaced in 2020 as a result of certain violations. Madera "always took responsibility or any events at our hospital," she said in comments to the Bee. "Any time there was an incident, the hospital would immediately initiate a thorough investigation into the matter and a root-cause analysis would be completed." 

Madera Community Hospital, the city's only hospital for about 66,000 residents, closed its doors nearly a year ago due to financial challenges and filed for bankruptcy in March. Now, it is seeking to reopen with a new financial partner after securing a $52 million state emergency loan. That decision ultimately lies with a bankruptcy judge. 

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