Pandemic pushing local nonprofit health care system into financial insecurity

Local News

STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing community health centers to cut back. 

Golden Valley Health Centers recently announced that 5% of its staff was laid off and another 20% was furloughed.

While Community Medical Centers has avoided letting anyone go, the CEO told FOX40 she is unsure what their long-term future may bring.

Before this pandemic hit, staff said a now empty waiting room would have been full of people. What was once a steady stream of patients is now a scaled-down operation at Stockton’s Community Medical Center.

“Definitely being hit very, very hard,” said Community Medical Centers CEO Christine Noguera.

Community Medical Centers Inc. is a nonprofit health care system that serves financially struggling and underserved families.

Noguera said her organization now faces financial insecurity.

“We are losing approximately $57,000 a day and that’s a lot of money in our budget,” she explained.

Physician’s assistant Juan O’Meany said like many clinics, they have moved to mostly phone-based appointments.

“I feel that I am working here every day, doing the best for our patients,” O’Meany told FOX40.

While they still treat thousands of patients over the phone, the number of appointments has dwindled, which affects their bottom line.

“Our finances are going through a difficult time,” O’Meany said.

Noguera said she does not know what could happen next if this continues.

“We don’t know, truly. This is a whole paradigm shift in health care,” she said.

Noguera said around 20% of staff members have voluntarily taken non-paid time off with health insurance, which has helped. The federal government will provide a little relief in the form of a $1.3 billion grant to all community health centers.

However, with the organization’s financial foundation getting shakier, they are looking to the community to help them stabilize.

“Making sure that people know that we’re here, that we are still here to provide the critical mission that we have for our patients,” Noguera said.

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Correction: This story has been edited to reflect that Community Medical Centers Inc. is losing $57,000 a day. The CEO previously misspoke and reported a loss of $57,000 a week.

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