Delano Regional Medical Center has agreed to become part of Adventist Health Central California, pending regulatory approval.
The move announced Jan. 11 would fold 156-bed Delano Regional, operated by Central California Foundation for Health since 1992, into a much larger nonprofit organization with hospitals, clinics and other resources in 80 communities across the West Coast and Hawaii.
The addition of Delano Regional would also restack Kern County's highly competitive hospital market. Adventist's primary competitor in Bakersfield, San Francisco-based Dignity Health, has three local hospitals: Bakersfield Memorial and Mercy Hospital's downtown and southwest Bakersfield locations. If DRMC joins Adventist, then the Roseville-based chain would have three hospitals in Kern — one each in Bakersfield, Delano and Tehachapi — plus another proposed in northwest Bakersfield.
No money would change hands as part of the agreement because Delano Regional is joining Adventist without being purchased, said Adventist's regional communication director, Christine Pickering.
State records show Delano Regional reported net income of $4.9 million in 2017. They show about half the hospital's gross revenue came from Medi-Cal, a little more than a third came from Medicare and 12 percent came from third-party payers such as insurance. The balance coming from payment for indigent care (1.7 percent) and other payment sources.
DRMC President Bahram Ghaffari said in a news release dated Jan. 10 the decision follows careful review and is based on Adventist's "commitment to agricultural communities and its approach to providing care best aligned with Delano's mission and direction." He added it will allow Delano Regional to provide more coordinated care.
"Delano Regional Medical Center is pleased to join Adventist Health as we expand on our health-care services in the Delano area, while continuing to build on our dedication and commitment to the communities we serve," he wrote.
Adventist CEO Scott Reiner said in the same release he does not anticipate significant changes in the employee population or management structure "simply because DRMC already operates lean and very efficiently."
"We are pleased and humbled to be selected by Delano Regional Medical Center," he stated. "We look forward to building on the medical center's rich heritage in the community and living God's love as we expand access to quality care in Delano and the surrounding communities together."
The announcement appears to contradict emailed statements late last year by DRMC business development director Matthew Cauthron, who also directs marketing and community relations for the hospital.
"DRMC is not in any talks or agreement with any other hospital system," he wrote in an email Nov. 9. He denied the hospital was approached during the past year about a purchase offer and affirmed DRMC is not for sale, saying "we have not considered any benefits to such." Cauthron could not be reached for comment early Jan. 11.
Delano Regional has an intensive care unit, a sub-acute care unit, a medical surgical unit, a surgical pavilion and an obstetrics/gynecology unit. Its clinics include three rural clinics: Delano Women's Medical Clinic, Delano Urgent Care and Wasco Medical Plaza.