Registered Nurses Applaud Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust’s Decision to Buy Watsonville Community Hospital
Registered nurses, doctors, community activists, and residents applaud Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust’s decision to exercise its right of first refusal to buy Watsonville Community Hospital (WCH) from Quorum, announced the California Nurses Association today.
“This is truly a wonderful day for the people of Watsonville and Pajaro Valley,” said Amy Grooters, RN. “We are incredibly grateful that the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust voted to buy the hospital and to restore it to a nonprofit community hospital that is committed to serving the residents of Watsonville and not the interests of outside investors. This is a day for celebration.”
“This is a wonderfully historic moment for Watsonville,” said Dr. Joe Gallagher, a longtime physician at WCH. “I want to express my sincerest thanks to the health trust for taking this bold step. So many people in Watsonville are committed to doing the right thing. We have a ton of work ahead of us, but this will be a labor of love.”
“This is an opportunity to literally reshape the future of the health and well-being of this community,” said Dori Rose Inda, the executive director of Salud Para la Gente. “Half of the Pajaro Valley community is under 21 years of age. This broad community partnership promises this future generation access to the health care they need to thrive and prosper.”
The Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust voted to exercise its option to buy WCH following a July 14 community town hall organized by the nurses. Hundreds of nurses, civic leaders, and other residents expressed concerns about the sale of the hospital to another for-profit corporation.
WCH was originally a nonprofit hospital, but was sold to Community Health Systems (CHS), a Tennessee-based for-profit hospital operator, in 1998. The Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust was created as a result of that sale and the trust was granted the right of first refusal to purchase the hospital before the seller negotiated any other offers. While Quorum, a spin-off of CHS, took over the hospital in 2016, this was the first time the hospital had been up for sale since 1998.
"This shows us in the starkest terms that when a community comes together with a clear goal that serves the needs of all, the people can move mountains," said Silvia Perez, RN. "We are so excited to begin work on the next phase of returning this hospital to the people and patients of Watsonville."
“This victory is groundbreaking as it is one of very few times in the country that we have seen a for-profit hospital returned to the community,” said Malinda Markowitz, RN and president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. “For-profit health care interests prioritize their bottom line above all else. From cutting corners on staffing, to closing facilities and units that are not profitable—but that are essential for the community’s well-being—this ‘profits over people’ mentality has negative health impacts for our patients. Seeing this hospital return to the community is not only important for Watsonville, but provides a path for other communities who would like to reclaim their hospitals.”
CNA/NNU is the largest and fastest growing all-RN professional organization and union in the nation with a membership of 100,000 RNs in more than 200 facilities throughout California and more than 150,000 nurses nationwide.