IN AN EFFORT TO KEEP struggling community hospitals open, California will provide close to $300 million in loans to 17 hospitals in the state, including some in the Bay Area, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Aug. 24.

Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals around the country and across California have been facing severe financial distress, forcing some to close and others to get to the brink of closure. Many of these hospitals are located in rural areas of the state and serve lower-income people and communities of color.

The Distressed Hospital Loan Program, which was created by Assembly Bill 112, aims to guarantee access to these necessary health services by providing zero-interest loans to public and nonprofit community hospitals.

In May, Newsom announced an initial $150 million for the program but has since doubled its funding.

“We have more work to do, but I’m proud to have led this effort, and am grateful the Legislature and Governor moved quickly to ensure vulnerable communities across California have health care access when they need it most,” said Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria, D-Merced.

While the program received 30 applications, the California Health Facilities Financing Authority (a department at the State Treasurer’s Office providing loans to certain health care providers) and the California Department of Health Care Access and Information, which jointly administer the program, prioritized hospitals with the greatest financial distress, highest risk of closing and well-founded plans to remain open and provide care to communities.

Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, St. Rose Hospital in Hayward and Sonoma Valley Hospital in Sonoma are among the hospitals receiving loans, with the local loans ranging between $3 million and $33 million.

The departments are scheduled to release the loans in the coming weeks.

The program is set to end on Dec. 31, 2031.

Helena Getahun-Hawkins is an intern at Bay City News through Stanford’s Rebele Fellowship. She’s a rising junior at Stanford majoring in International Relations and minoring in Spanish. She writes for The Stanford Daily under the campus life desk and was most recently managing editor of the Daily’s podcast section. She enjoys covering stories that center around education policy, immigration policy, and identity. Outside of journalism she enjoys drawing, yoga, listening to music, and watching TV.