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This is an overhead view of the proposed new Seneca Medical Center. For location reference, the building in the lower right corner of the photo is the existing Seneca Walk-in Clinic. The new location is located on property that the district has already purchased from the Collins Pine Co. and the project, if approved, is ready to begin site preparation. Photo by Gregg Scott

Future of new hospital and Almanor Basin hinges on Measure B

By Gregg Scott

Staff Writer


In many ways the future of the Lake Almanor Basin will be decided on Nov. 8. Yes, you guessed it, I am referring to what is called Measure B on the ballot. Measure B is asking residents in the Seneca Healthcare District to approve the sale of bonds to finance a new hospital in Chester. You can read the full text of the measure in the Plumas County Voter Guide, but basically, upon approval, each property in the district would be assessed $80  $100,000  of assessed property value. Arguably, the most important part of this issue is that in the real world it is a choice between approval of a new hospital or not having a hospital at all by 2030.

The state of California has mandated that all rural hospitals be updated to a certain set of standards by that year (2030).  The Seneca Healthcare District has been searching for a solution for several years now and has determined that retrofitting (remodeling) the existing building will be more expensive and will require numerous shutdowns in the process. Very few folks think the hospital should be closed leaving the basin with just a medical clinic.  At the Oct. 24th Lake Almanor Chamber Townhall, Friends of Seneca member Katherine Sansone, described the various options and also explained why the Chamber believes a new facility will not only enhance the quality of care available in the area, but also help enhance the overall quality of living for the basin.

History has shown that doctors and other healthcare personnel are more likely to accept a position at a new up-to-date medical facility than an older hospital or clinic. New technology makes it easier and quicker to make a sure and accurate diagnosis.  This leads to quicker response during what has become known as the “Golden Hour” in life threatening cases.  In general, there is a propensity of people and businesses to relocate to areas that have quality healthcare in the immediate vicinity. Nobody wants to travel an hour or more to get the care they need.

The folks over at the hospital have been out in the community to answer any and all questions about the proposed new facility with visual displays of what it could look like. Sean McKenzie, CEO of Seneca Healthcare District, stressed that this project is ready to start moving as soon as Measure B is approved. The district wants to stay way ahead of the curve in regard to the 2030 requirements.

Proponents of a new Seneca Healthcare hospital sit behind a table in the Chester Holiday Market that has scale models of the new proposed facility. They manned the table for several hours on two separate days to answer any questions about the project and Measure B, the ballot measure for funding the project. From left are, Sean McKenzie, CEO at Seneca Healthcare; Chelsea Outland, Marketing & PR Officer and Jerri Nielsen, Seneca Healthcare Board Member. Photo by Gregg Scott

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