Press Release

Hazel Hawkins nurses to hold rally, call on San Benito County Health District to end takeaways, which jeopardize patient care

Nurses holding signs, "Save our community hospital, save Hazel Hawkins"

RN advocacy prompts reopening of ICU after weeks of closure

Registered nurses and other health care workers at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, California, will hold a rally on Thursday, July 27 prior to the San Benito Health Care District meeting. The nurses are demanding the district halt further takeaways, which jeopardize recruitment and retention of nurses and in turn puts patient care at risk, announced California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) today.

“The San Benito Health Care District’s decision to renege on their contractual obligations has led to nurses and other health care workers leaving Hazel Hawkins, and taking with them years of experience that would have benefited our community,” said Diane Beck, a registered nurse in the medical-surgical unit. “We put ourselves and our families’ health on the line through the unimaginably difficult pandemic years and it is shocking that this is how the district has decided to treat us. 

“Imagine if you went to work and found you had a sudden unexpected increase in health care costs or you were losing thousands of dollars in compensation each year. The district is threatening even more takeaways. How can we retain nurses when our benefits are being stripped away? How can we attract quality nurses when there are threats of more takeaways? We are demanding an end to takeaways so we can keep our experienced staff and attract experienced nurses who can provide the best care to our patients.”

  • Who: Hazel Hawkins registered nurses and health care workers  
  • What: Rally before San Benito Health Care District meeting  
  • When: Thursday, July 27 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, 911 Sunset Dr, Hollister, Calif. 

Nurses recognize the power of their advocacy and the importance of the community’s support as they fight to ensure that Hazel Hawkins remains a full-service acute-care hospital and maintains all current service lines.

The nurses held a town hall on July 6 where they shared their concerns that the hospital’s ICU had been closed for more than a month due to a lack of staffing. Eleven days later, the hospital brought in nurses and reopened the ICU.

“It is gratifying to see that our advocacy and our actions are producing results,” said Ariahnna Sanchez, a registered nurse in the emergency department. “While we are grateful for the temporary registry nurses who are now staffing the unit, we know that staff nurses and health care workers are the best suited to provide care and maintain the economic stability of our city and county. We can not afford to lose staff nurses and health care workers who are part of our community and whose employment benefits Hollister and all of San Benito County.”

When hospitals hire temporary registry nurses, those nurses come at a steep cost and the money does not stay in the community. Since July 2021, Hazel Hawkins has spent at least $8.5 million on temporary registry nurses. 

On June 22, Hazel Hawkins nurses informed the district they had taken a no confidence vote citing the district’s lack of transparency. Nurses challenge the district’s decision to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. A CNA analysis of the district’s financial statements found that hospital is not insolvent, and in fact, received a net income of $5 million since July 2021. Nurses are particularly troubled by the inaccuracy in the district’s financial projections included in its May bankruptcy filing.

“When the district filed for bankruptcy, it forecasted it would only have $8 million in cash on hand at the end of May. But in actuality the hospital had $14.9 million,” said Diane Mulcahy, a registered nurse in the obstetrics unit. “That is a huge miscalculation. How could they get it so wrong?” 

Nurses point out that by filing for bankruptcy, the district was able to arbitrarily institute takeaways. The district has also taken legal steps to invalidate all union contracts. 

“If you look at the totality of the situation, the filing for bankruptcy looks like a blatant form of union busting,” said Sonia Duran, a registered nurse in the medical-surgical unit. “But we are stronger than the district and the managers of Hazel Hawkins. We are nurses who stand by our patients on their toughest days and we intend to continue our fight to ensure our community gets the best care possible. We invite the community to join us in this struggle for the benefit of San Benito County.” 

California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and nearly 225,000 RNs nationwide.