By ABBY SOUZA
Tuolumne General Hospital can borrow more than its normal $5.5 million limit from the county this month, Tuolumne County supervisors decided in a 4-1 vote yesterday.
District 4 Supervisor Mark Thornton cast the dissenting vote.
"We can't keep going down this path," he said, referring to repeated past requests for a higher TGH loan limit.
But further such requests appear likely.
How much extra funding the hospital needs is not yet known, but this is the fourth month in a row TGH has asked that the ceiling on its monthly loan be raised. The hospital has never used the extra money: The request has always been made as a precaution.
That, however, is no longer the case.
"It's not a 'maybe' anymore, gentlemen," Deborah Russell, assistant county auditor-controller told county supervisors yesterday. "We're at a brick wall."
Unless the hospital brings in more than $1 million in the next four days, it will need extra cash this month, she said. And the loan limit will have to be raised for months to come, she added.
"I'll be back here in February, I'll be back here in March, I'll be back here in April, I'll be back here in May and I'll be back here in June," Russell said.
Discouraging as the numbers are, most supervisors indicated they see no way to avoid extending the loan. Twice a year, the hospital has a month in which employees get three paychecks, and January is one of those. Without the extra cash, paying hospital employees would be a challenge.
"I don't think that's something we care to get into," District 5 Supervisor Richard Pland said.
Thornton has repeatedly opposed he is unsatisfied with the efforts going into finding long-term solutions to TGH's money problems.
Thornton said he has sent several memos to hospital Administrator Barry Woerman about programming cuts he thinks would lessen the hospital's debt, but has received no response.