Nurses say maintaining all patient care services is essential for public safety
Registered nurses at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital (Hazel Hawkins) in Hollister, Calif., are deeply concerned to learn that the San Benito Health District Board of Directors, which oversees the facility, is taking steps to file a petition in bankruptcy under Chapter 9. The nurses, who are members of the California Nurses Association (CNA), fear what this will mean for their patients and for the health and well-being of San Benito County.
“It is very disturbing that nurses learn at the last minute that the district is preparing to file for bankruptcy,” said Benito Landeros, an operating room nurse. “As the only hospital in the city of Hollister and serving large swathes of San Benito County, we are gravely concerned that our patients will not have continued access to all existing services.”
Hazel Hawkins is the only hospital in Hollister, a city of 43,000, and serves all of San Benito County. Last year, the hospital’s emergency room treated more than 21,000 patients.
News of the dire financial situation was made public on Friday, November 4, just hours before the district board passed a resolution declaring a fiscal emergency. This resolution paves the way for the district to file for bankruptcy by December 31, 2022.
Additionally, the nurses were deeply troubled to learn that Hazel Hawkins must repay $5.2 million in government funding for Covid-19 over the next year. At the same time, planned future public and private reimbursement payments will be reduced by millions.
“How come 5 months ago the hospital was talking about investing millions in buying property and expanding the hospital, and now we are talking about insolvency?” asked Diane Beck, a registered nurse. “We need the people running this public institution to be upfront and transparent with nurses and our community. The health and well-being of Hollister and San Benito County depends on Hazel Hawkins.
Less than a month ago, the district ousted Hazel Hawkins CEO Steven Hannah. Hannah was originally hired for a four-year term, but was fired after less than two years. Hannah walked away with $360,000 in severance pay.
“I have to wonder who’s looking after the shop and the millions of dollars in health care district funding from San Benito County taxpayers,” said Sonia Duran, a registered nurse. “The leaders of our health care district must do everything in their power to ensure that they fulfill the mission statement to serve” as a comprehensive and responsive health care resource for its patients, physicians and community health care consumers”.
The California Nurses Association represents 120 nurses at Hazel Hawkins.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the nation’s largest and fastest growing union and professional association for registered nurses with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities across California and nearly 225,000 AI nationwide.