Hollister nurses vindicated by court ruling

Submitted by ADonahue on
Nurses at Hazel Hawkins town hall

Judge sides with RNs in rejecting hospital bankruptcy

By Rachel Berger 

National Nurse magazine - April | May | June 2024 Issue

Registered nurses at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, Calif. were deeply gratified that Judge Stephen Johnson, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern California District of California, has agreed with the nurses represented by California Nurses Association (CNA) and dismissed the San Benito County Health Care District’s assertion of bankruptcy, stating that the district “failed to show it is insolvent.”

“This is a great day for the people of San Benito County and those who receive care or work at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital,” said Diane Beck, RN. “We knew from day one that this claim of bankruptcy was bogus and intended to bust the unions and scare the community. We feel vindicated that the court was not persuaded by the false claims and distortions presented by the district during this bankruptcy case. Now we will move forward in our fight to maintain a full-service acute-care hospital so we can bring the highest quality of care to our community.”

In his March 21 ruling, Judge Johnson noted that the financial forecast submitted by the San Benito County Health Care District “has substantial differences when compared to the District’s audited financial statements and its monthly internal financial statements, and this became a major point of contention during the trial.” In conclusion, the judge found “[T]he District failed to present a coherent theory to show the appropriate number of days of cash on hand for the District. For these reasons, the court does not find the B. Riley Expert Report to be a reliable source of information for determining insolvency and discounts its conclusions accordingly.”

Since nurses held their first town hall meeting in July 2023, there are now multiple letters of intent from various entities looking to partner with Hazel Hawkins. Of these, the San Benito County’s letter of intent, is the only one which would keep Hazel Hawkins a public asset.

In April, Hazel Hawkins nurses held a rally to call on management to focus on patient care and staffing, instead of directing taxpayer money toward an appeal following their failed bankruptcy case. Nurses strongly believe that selling to a private entity not only puts the health of the community, but also its economic security, at risk. 

Rachel Berger is a communications specialist at National Nurses United.