Press Release

RNs to Contra Costa Supervisors: Act Now to Stop Closure of Doctors San Pablo Hospital

RNs Will Step Up Call at Contra Costa Board Meeting Tuesday

‘We need this hospital open to save lives,’ RNs say

Registered nurses, joined by community residents, will urge the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday, June 3, to escalate efforts to save Doctors Medical Center (DMC) in San Pablo.

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Community members at a town hall meeting held to keep DMC open


The RNs, members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United have been calling on the County to step up to the plate and assume responsibility for management and operation of the hospital and its emergency room as a full service hospital. The facility could close as soon as July. The Board meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the county administration building, 651 Pine St. in Martinez.
CNA RNs have stepped up a widespread community effort to keep the hospital open and have it run by the county as essential to protecting access to critical hospital and emergency services in West Country Costa County. RNs note that DMC provides 60 percent of the emergency care in the region, some 40,000 patients a year and has 79 percent of the hospital beds.

The region is especially susceptible to health emergencies, as RNs noted in the first of three CNA-sponsored town hall meetings May 22 being held across the county when they emphasized that following a 2012 fire at the nearby Chevron refinery, a majority of the 15,000 residents seeking care went to DMC.

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Community members at a town hall meeting held to keep DMC open

At the second of three town hall forums CNA is sponsoring across the county held Thursday night in Hercules, DMC emergency room RN Maria Sahagun talked about the 45,000 patients who come to the DMC emergency room every year. “I'm afraid that if we close a lot of people will die, especially the trauma patients, the stroke patients, the cardiac patients. We need this hospital open to save lives.”
RN Char Shellenberger, who works in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, said she wants the Supervisors to know that the DMC cath lab “is the only place (in the region) where you can receive interventional services. What does this mean for you? If you are having chest pain, and this includes Kaiser patients, you come in through the ED and we can have your heart arteries open and you can have a new lease on life within 30 minutes, from the time you come in the door to the time we have the artery open.”
“But If DMC closes,” said Shellenberger, “and you're a Kaiser patient you're going to have to be transported, over 40 minutes to another facility. In that amount of time cardiac cells are dying. That's why it's so important to have DMC be open.”
Hercules resident Gerald Mayo, who has been a DMC patient, told the town hall meeting, that when he was diagnosed with “stage IV lung cancer and my doctor told me to go to the oncologist at DMC. I went to the hospital ER six times in 2011. If it wasn't for this hospital being open, if it wasn't for the nurses and for (the oncologist), and everyone else in radiology, I wouldn't be here. I had no chance, but they wouldn't give up on me. That's why I'm here as a patient. If you have no hospital in West County what's going to happen to people like me, or you?”
CNA also cites a recent report of a 6.5 percent uptick in county finances, and the added need for patient care as a result of enrollments under the Affordable Care Act as additional indications that the county should intervene to keep the hospital open.
The nurses have also noted that the hospital serves many indigent patients and a closure would have a disparate and disproportionate impact on the health of African Americans and senior citizens in violation of their civil rights. CNA/NNU has filed charges and is awaiting response from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights for a charge alleging unlawful discrimination by Contra Costa County and the West Contra Costa Healthcare District by the planned closure of the hospital. The complaint seeks injunctive relief from the federal government to prevent the closure of DMC.
In addition to attending the Board meeting Tuesday, CNA is sponsoring a third town hall meeting June 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Community Center, Pavilion Room, 320 Civic Cr., in Pleasant Hill.