Lost Hospital — Kingsburg District Hospital, Kingsburg, California0

Before it closed in May 2010, Kingsburg District Hospital was one of the last remaining rural hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley.

Located just off of Smith Street in Kingsburg, California, Kingsburg District Hospital faced many challenges since it opened in 1961. Past cutbacks and bankruptcies did not shut the rural hospital down before, but it was unable to survive financially any longer.

One Kingsburg resident drove herself to the hospital when she thought she was having a heart attack (the hospital was only a few blocks away from her home).  When she arrived, she learned that the emergency department — which had been closed in 2008 — was gone. She had to drive to the local fire department, and was then taken by ambulance to Selma Hospital more than seven miles away.

As the resident stated: “I remember when I had my children in the old hospital … you sort of knew everybody and everybody knew you. You had a special certain assistance and hospitality that’s strange now.”

A retired Kingsburg teacher noted that most of her students were born at Kingsburg hospital. Her mother in law worked there as a nurse. She says everyone in the community was connected to the hospital in some way.

According to Kingsburg’s mayor, Bruce Blayney, when larger hospitals opened, many local doctors and patients followed. The closure of the hospital in a town like Kingsburg, according to the Mayor, creates an image problem: “When you see any institution that’s been around as long as Kingsburg’s hospital’s been around … it winds up becoming a sign that the community is struggling.”

The hospital closed its emergency department in 2008, and then it stopped doing surgeries in 2009. With just skilled nursing unit patients remaining, Kingsburg District Hospital finally closed. According to CEO of the Hospital Board, Bob Kelley, the decision was made “at the beginning of March [2010] to close the skilled nursing facility which is the only area of the hospital that had patients.”

Almost sixty employees lost their jobs when the hospital closed.

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