Fundraising for hospitals nears finish line – The Pajaronian

In Santa Cruz County, keeping our communities healthy is a collaborative effort of many health service providers, and Watsonville Community Hospital is a critical piece of that puzzle.

For several months now, Watsonville Community Hospital has teetered on the brink of closure and is currently bankrupt.

The hospital is essential to the health of all communities north of Moss Landing and south of the San Mateo county line. It is important to note that at the start of the pandemic, the Pajaro Valley had the highest Covid-19 rates in Santa Cruz County. Watsonville Community Hospital supported these patients – primarily essential workers and their families – as we navigated through the darkest days of the pandemic every day. Watsonville Community Hospital is also where 800 babies are born each year and where essential emergency services are provided.

Community leaders recognize the vital role that Watsonville Community Hospital plays and have led the way in ensuring the people of the Pajaro Valley have a reliable, long-term solution for their regional hospital needs.

As we work to save the hospital now, we must also work towards the long-term sustainability of delivering health care for all. This means working with state and federal authorities to ensure that our public programs reimburse health care services at rates that truly cover the cost of providing care.

Although California has been successful in expanding access to government health insurance and reducing the number of uninsured people, California’s Medi-Cal reimbursement rates are among the lowest in the country. Likewise, hospitals and doctors in Northern California are more underpaid by Medicare than in any other area of ​​the county. For this reason, hospitals and providers are unable to recoup most of the basic costs of providing care to patients with public health insurance. This affects hospitals like the one in Watsonville because the majority of their patients have public health insurance. If this underlying problem is not addressed, the financial well-being of our entire health care system is at risk. Yes, we need to work in the short term to save Watsonville Community Hospital, and we cannot ignore the long term need to ensure we have adequate care networks for everyone.

And our care network is interconnected, which means everyone in the county has a stake in the future of the hospital, regardless of where they receive services. It’s not hard to imagine what the downstream effect would be on the Dominican Hospital emergency department if the Watsonville hospital were to close.

The way forward for Watsonville Community Hospital is for the community to recognize the hospital for the critical regional resource that it is by creating public oversight through Health Care District ownership, responding to local needs. and administered by local leaders invested in the health and well-being of everyone. The Pajaro Valley Health Care District Project (PVHDP) was formed to accomplish this.

Local and state leaders and interested groups came together to help PVHDP meet the hospital’s purchase goal. This includes a public investment of $25 million through the state budget, a $3 million grant from the Central California Alliance for Health, and several other significant donations. We are 98% of the way to achieving the largest community fundraising effort in Santa Cruz County history.

The continued health of our region demands that we all come together to save Watsonville Community Hospital – we need your help to push us across the finish line now to raise the final $1.6 million. Information on how to donate is available at

As physicians, we see how important Watsonville Community Hospital is to the health of our communities. Please join us in saving this irreplaceable community resource.

Dr. Donaldo M. Hernandez, MD, FACP

President-Elect, California Medical Association

Ciara Harraher, MD

President, Santa Cruz County Medical Society

Steven Harrison, MD

President, Monterey County Medical Society

Dr. Amy McEntee

Chief Medical Officer, Salud Para La Gente

Dr. Casey Kirkhart

Chief Medical Officer, Santa Cruz Community Health

The authors represent medical societies in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, as well as major providers of clinical safety net services in Santa Cruz and North Monterey Counties – Salud Para La Gente and Santa Cruz Community Health. Together, they represent hundreds of physicians providing care to the majority of local residents.

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