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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Foundation Buys Ojai Valley Community Hospital

Health care: The $2-million sale creating the 110-bed nonprofit facility was in the works for more than a year.

October 04, 2000|GAIL DAVIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OJAI — A local nonprofit foundation has bought Ojai Valley Community Hospital for $2 million, officials announced Tuesday.

The sale--in the works for more than a year--was completed Sunday and will turn the 110-bed hospital into a nonprofit facility and allow the new owner, the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation, to receive charitable donations.

Its new status may enable the small hospital to revive its recently closed maternity ward and make other expansions, plans foundation officials said they have in mind but can't act on immediately, said Alan Rains, president of the foundation board.

Because the hospital will be community owned, Rains said, management can "plow [money] back into the hospital."

The new designation could also mean a hefty property tax savings and generate money to help the facility install state-required earthquake retrofitting.

Earlier this year, county officials said the property tax savings could run $100,000 a year if the hospital turned nonprofit. Before the sale, records showed that the hospital made $300,000 to $400,000 a year on a $15-million budget.

The hospital sees 500 to 600 patients a month in its emergency room, uses 23 doctors and, with 280 workers, is Ojai Valley's third-largest employer. The next nearest hospitals for the valley's 30,000 residents are half an hour away in Santa Paula and Ventura.

Rains had no estimate on the cost of retrofitting the basically one-story building, but said it will be "nothing monumental."

The hospital's top two officials, Victoria Alexander and Norm Bergman, will keep their jobs, Rains said, adding that the hospital staff also supports the sale.

Tennessee-based Province Healthcare Inc. said it will record an after-tax loss of $6 million from the sale.

Seismic requirements will close 20 to 25 of the region's 200-plus hospitals over the next decade, officials for the Healthcare Assn. of Southern California have estimated. Even without retrofitting concerns, more than 115 California hospitals have closed or consolidated in the last decade.

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