Press Release

Nurses denounce San Benito County Health Care District board vote

RNs holding sign "Save our community hospital. Save Hazel Hawkins."

Nurses vow to stop the sale of this vital public asset at the polls

Registered nurses deeply oppose the San Benito County Health Care District board’s vote to enter into exclusive negotiations with Michigan-based Insight Foundation, a private entity, ahead of the proposed sale of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital. However, nurses recognize that the voters will make the ultimate decision on the future of Hazel Hawkins at the polls this November and nurses vow to fight against this effort to privatize this critical public asset.

“The San Benito County Health Care District board seems unable or unwilling to recognize that Hazel Hawkins is a valuable public asset that belongs to the people of the San Benito Health Care District,” said Sonia Duran, a registered nurse. “While it is inconceivable to the nurses why the board is so clearly biased towards a private buyer, we want the public to understand that it will be up to the voters to decide the future of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.”

“A public hospital is accountable to us, the community,” said Diane Beck, a registered nurse. “A private hospital would be driven by profit and accountable to shareholders, who historically prioritize money over patients. Privatization would likely raise costs, making it harder for people to get the care they need. This isn’t just about money; it’s about lives and health. We need a hospital that puts our health and well-being first.”

Nurses note that since the hospital announced it was looking for partners, several buyers have come forward, including San Benito County. The county has proposed creating a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to govern Hazel Hawkins; the JPA option would mean that the hospital remains a public asset.

“Contrary to what the board has said, Hazel Hawkins is not a failing hospital and it would not close if this proposed sale to Insight falls through,” said Ariahnna Sanchez, a registered nurse. “We have heard Insight’s grandiose plans and promises for the hospital, but where is the business plan with details about funding sources? It is easy to paint a rosy picture of the future, but where is the substance? As a member of this community, I want to see the hospital grow and thrive. I want to ensure it is here to serve my family for generations to come. If we sell to a private buyer, we relinquish all control of the hospital’s future to the new owners.”

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.