The Antelope Valley Hospital has been the topic of discussion for a couple years (at least), ever since officials from the Antelope Valley Healthcare District and the hospital began discussing Measure H.
Measure H was on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot, however, the $350 million General Obligation Bond, or GO Bond, failed to collect the necessary two-thirds voter support it required.
The GO Bond collected 38,237 yes votes, or 61.54% and 23,899 no votes, or 38.46%.
The Bond would have ensured the hospital meets California’s 2030 seismic earthquake safety standards by upgrading the existing hospital or building a new state-of-the art facility.
We’re now in 2020 and again, the hospital is asking for money to upgrade the existing structure, or build a new one. This time, it’s being referred to as Measure AV, but is still asking for $350 million.
The hospital faces a 2025 state deadline to meet seismic standards. This is an extension to the original 2020 deadline and comes with specific milestones in which the district must show progress toward constructing a new building or retrofitting the old.
If it cannot meet the deadline, the hospital will be forced to close, officials said.
The new facility has an estimated price tag of $600 to $650 million. The voter-approved bond measure would cover a portion of those costs, with the remainder to be raised through private, tax-exempt bonds and potentially, county and federal programs, according to AV Hospital CEO Ed Mirzabegian.
If approved, the 30-year bond will cost property-owning taxpayers $28-30 per $100,000 valuation annually.
At the higher end, that would mean $90 per year for a $300,000 house, Mirzabegian said.
The situation sounds dire. Palmdale Regional Medical Center can only handle so many patients at one time. They’re not a Level II Trauma Center and don’t have an obstetrics wing to deliver babies.
However, some are questioning what took so long for the hospital to take action to meet the deadline. Yes, there was a GO Bond vote in 2018, but the extension for retrofitting was in 2020, which means they put out a Bond vote two years before the extension deadline.
Another question that has come up during this discussion, is whether the current AV Hospital Board can be trusted to use the money for its intended purpose.
AV Hospital has been a revolving door for chief executive officers. In fact, Michael Wall was the fourth CEO to end his employment with the hospital, in just five years. It was never made clear why he chose to voluntarily resign, but he and Chief Financial Officer Colette Nichols were placed on administrative leave Oct. 17, 2018, amid alleged improprieties. At the time, there were two investigations launched, one of which concluded and the second of which, was no longer proceeding. Details on why they resigned and the conclusion of the first investigation were sparse, but there was a lot of speculation — and claims — to include alleged embezzlement, bullying and retaliatory tactics by Wall.
So here were are in 2020 and there is a dire need to keep the Antelope Valley Hospital’s doors open, but some of those who have been in the CEO position have been questionable, at best, so what is a voter to do?
There are two choices:
1. Vote to pass the bond measure, which would mean the hospital is able to continue operating, but do so knowing your taxes will increase and perhaps you’ll wonder forevermore, if the money is being used properly; or
2. Don’t vote to pass the measure, in which case, you will not see any new taxes, but that might also mean having to travel “down below” for vital services you could otherwise get at AVH.
It’s a tough decision, all things considered.
We hope the voters weigh the options and take the ramifications of both options into consideration before going to the polls.