RNs at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital raise deep concerns about possible bankruptcy filing
Nurses say maintaining all patient care services is essential for public safety
Registered nurses at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital (Hazel Hawkins) in Hollister, Calif., are deeply concerned to learn that the Board of Directors of the San Benito Health District, which oversees the facility, is taking steps to file a Chapter 9 bankruptcy petition. The nurses, who are members of the California Nurses Association (CNA), fear what this will mean for their patients and the health and well-being of San Benito County.
“It is very troubling that the nurses are learning at the eleventh hour that the district is preparing to file for bankruptcy,” said Benito Landeros, an operating room nurse. “As the only hospital in the city of Hollister and serving large swaths of San Benito County, we are gravely concerned that our patients will not have continued access to all existing services.”
Hazel Hawkins is the only hospital in Hollister, a city of 43,000 people, and serves all of San Benito County. Last year, the hospital’s emergency room treated more than 21,000 patients.
News of the dire financial situation was made public on Friday, Nov. 4, just hours before the district’s board of directors voted to pass a resolution declaring a fiscal emergency. This resolution clears the way for the district to file for bankruptcy by Dec. 31, 2022.
Furthermore, the nurses were deeply troubled to learn Hazel Hawkins must repay $5.2 million in government Covid-19 funding over the next year. At the same time, anticipated future public and private reimbursement payments will be cut by millions.
“How can it be that, 5 months ago, the hospital was talking about investing millions into buying up property and expanding the hospital, and now we are talking about insolvency?” asked Diane Beck, a registered nurse. “We need the people managing this public institution to be straight and transparent with the nurses and our community. The health and well-being of Hollister and San Benito County depends on Hazel Hawkins.”
Less than a month ago, the district ousted Hazel Hawkins CEO Steven Hannah. Hannah had initially been hired to serve a four-year term, but was let go after less than two. Hannah walked away with $360,000 in severance pay.
“I have to wonder who is minding the shop and the millions of dollars in health care district funding from the taxpayers of San Benito County,” said Sonia Duran, a registered nurse. “Our health care district leadership must do everything in their power to ensure they fulfill the mission statement to serve ‘as a responsive, comprehensive health care resource for its patients, physicians, and the health care consumers of the community.’”
California Nurses Association represents 120 nurses at Hazel Hawkins.
The 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.