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How The Closure Of Madera County's Only Hospital Has Impacted The Community

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madera community hospital
A fresh coat of bright white paint is part of the makeover Madera Community Hospital has been getting since a bankruptcy judge approved of a purchase from a new owner earlier this year. (Kerry Klein/KVPR)

Here are the morning’s top stories on Thursday, June 13, 2024…

  • When a county’s only hospital closes, you might expect there to be dire, immediate effects on public health. However, since Madera Community Hospital closed its doors in early 2023, the consequences haven’t been so clear. 
  • California insurance regulators are sharing the next phase of their plans to fix the state’s ailing insurance market. These new regulations propose to let insurance companies use the catastrophe models they want, but in exchange, require them to offer more coverage in wildfire-prone areas of the state.  
  • Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday, nearly a week after the city revealed it was investigating him for an inappropriate off-duty relationship. Balderrama has been under investigation since February, after alerting city officials that he might be accused of an inappropriate relationship.

Looking Back At Impact Of Madera Community Hospital Closure

More than a year and a half since Madera Community Hospital closed, nearly everyone who depended on it has a reason why they want to see it back open. 

But state data is helping paint a better picture of what happened in the weeks and months – and year – since the hospital closed. Though only so many conclusions can be drawn from just one year of data, the numbers suggest that what some had gravely feared has not come to pass on a large scale.

In the year after the hospital closed, fewer Madera County residents died than the year before. And among the most common causes of death, only a handful appeared to cause an uptick in deaths post closure. But health officials said one likely reason is because COVID-related deaths were already dropping in the county at the time of the closure.

California Shows Where Insurers Would Need to Boost Coverage in Fire-Prone Areas

California insurance regulators on Wednesday released maps of the state’s most wildfire-distressed areas, where they aim to require insurance companies to write more policies, the next phase of their plan to address the ongoing crisis in the state’s home insurance market.


The new draft state regulations are a cornerstone of the California Department of Insurance’s strategy to make more insurance available for consumers, who have found it hard to find new property insurance as companies pull out of the market amid worsening wildfire risk. Homeowners have been increasingly pushed toward the FAIR Plan, the state’s insurer of last resort, which offers expensive, low-quality coverage and is severely financially overextended.

To do this, the department floated draft regulations requiring companies to offer more coverage in wildfire-distressed areas of the state. As a concession, California will allow insurance providers to set rates using forward-looking catastrophe models that consider the effects of climate change on future disasters and also incorporate mitigation done to increase safety.

Fresno Police Chief Placed On Paid Leave

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama has been placed on administrative leave. This comes nearly a week after the city revealed an ongoing investigation into “an inappropriate relationship” he had with a person who is not a city employee. 

Balderrama has been under investigation since February after informing city officials that he might be accused of having an inappropriate relationship. He became Fresno’s first Hispanic police chief in 2021 after serving as deputy chief in Oklahoma City.

According to the Fresno Bee, Balderrama is being investigated for having an affair with the wife of one of his officers. The city has hired an outside firm to investigate, and the city attorney will review the findings.

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