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PR CONTACT: Frankie Gallagher

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital

Phone: (831) 636-2644





Year-long pursuit of Critical Access Hospital status could result in millions more annually.


HOLLISTER, Calif.–September 27, 2018: The year-long pursuit by Hazel Hawkins Memorial (HHMH) to achieve a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation has reached a milestone, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) affirming HHMH’s eligibility to apply for rural hospital designation.


HHMH has worked diligently to demonstrate to CMS that the hospital meets distance criteria, and CMS affirmed the hospital’s eligibility in a letter sent to hospital CFO Mark Robinson late September.  “From the documentation you provided, it appears that Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital would meet the distance requirement for CAHs, based on its being more than 15 miles away from the next closest hospital on secondary roads,” the letter stated.


CMS also confirmed that “Hazel Hawkins Hospital may apply for rural reclassification…through our Division of Financial Management,” giving HHMH a green light to move forward.


CAH designation is designed to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to healthcare by keeping essential services in rural communities. CAHs receive benefits such as cost-based reimbursement for Medicare services, and the designation could result in $3 to $4 million more in reimbursement annually for HHMH.


Because CAH status will likely redefine HHMH’s needs in terms of a collaboration with a larger healthcare system, as well as aid negotiations, HHMH will pause the process of seeking a healthcare partner until after the CAH designation is achieved.


“The additional reimbursement will help Hazel Hawkins Hospital better sustain itself,” said CEO Ken Underwood, “and we will continue to seek ways to collaborate with other regional hospitals to enhance patient services.” Top priorities for HHMH include boosting local access to quality specialists and expanding recruitment of high-quality physicians.


Last week, partnership talks ended with Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) with the hospitals agreeing to maintain their strong cooperative relationship.


HHMH has a long history of being proactive in meeting patient needs. Securing CAH designation is another forward-thinking step to ensure the people of San Benito County have access to high-quality healthcare.


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About Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital is a full-service, public agency hospital delivering modern medicine and compassionate care to the growing San Benito County community. HHMH offers hundreds of health services across multiple locations, including top-tier specialists, a modern ER, and a state-of-the-art Women’s Center. To learn more about Hazel Hawkins Hospital, please visit


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