Catalina Island Medical Center schedules public forum

Facing a critical vote on a proposed ballot initiative April 10, the Catalina Island Medical Center has scheduled a public forum March 15 at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposal and answer questions from the public.

Hospital officials say the event will be held at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church.

The CIMC is asking voters to approve a $1 transit tax for passengers traveling to and from Catalina Island on local ferries.

The tax is projected to generate approximately $2 million per year, which hospital officials plan to dedicate to the repayment of a proposed loan from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

Jason Paret, CEO, says the USDA has “very low interest” loans available for rural communities and that proceeds will be sufficient to repay the construction costs of approximately $50 million.

“The little hospital that opened in 1960 is now serving a population of over 4,500 residents and one million visitors per year,” according to the announcement. This number is “more than four times the number it was built to serve almost 60 years ago.”

The State of California has mandated that all hospitals meet newly established earthquake safety standards by 2030, which “means we must begin raising the necessary funds for a new medical center.”

According to the announcement, the forum will cover;

• Who will be impacted if the hospital closes.

• Costs of the new medical center.

• How will it be financed.

• The ballot measure and its impact.

• The new medical center’s community benefit.

• The timeline.

Organizers say the event will be bilingual and will answer many of the questions surrounding the proposal facility.

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