Letter Writer Concerned About Wait Times at Fortuna ER

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Letter to the EditorI am writing with the hopes that an issue that i ran into could be addressed publicly…My dad is 77. 18 yrs ago he had a hip replacement and…it was hurting really bad so he asked me to go to the ER with him in Fortuna so I did.

When we got there, there was about 5 people ahead of us. As we are waiting, we find out that one young man had been there since 9am and it was 2 30 when we arrived. There was a pregnant woman that had been the since 11am having cramps fearing she was losing her baby. At 7:30 pm my dad said we were leaving.

At this point neither of those patients had been seen yet and in the 5 hrs we were there only one person had been called in. There was a gentleman with the 9am guy who went and bought everyone cheeese burgers cause he said we would be there till morning.

In the hrs we were there not once did any of the staff try to keep the patients updated on wait time.

Please help me make a change in the way this place that is suppose to help people is being ran.

Thanks sincerely Patricia Thomson



  • Did you have insurance or means to pay? I’ve never, ever had trouble at the Fortuna hospital for any reason.

  • I waited for over 8 hours at St Joe’s in Eureka, watched a shift change.. swear I’ll never go again

  • One drawback to living here, if you need medical care locally YOU ARE DOOMED!!

  • Glad this issue is being brought up! I could have bled to death waiting to be addmitted into the Fortuna emergency room. The difference in my ordeal is that the Garberville emergency room let them know I needed to be emediatly addmitted over an hour before arrival, there was no one ahead of us when we got there, the entire place was empty, I was made to wait another hour and a half while they “cleaned a bed for me”. Luckily I survived the experience, although I only ended up spending less than an hour in the actual emergency room. No insurance, the bill cam back over $3,000!!! Wtf, of course we went over the bill, they charged me $9 for a can of Sprite because the dr said my blood sugar was low. My husband could have gotten me a soda from the vending machine in the cafeteria for a buck:(
    (I don’t particularly like to recount this harrowing experience, as my hemoraginging was due to a late term misscarrage, the fetus had already passed away, I was meant to be given an emergency abortion to remove it, but ended up going into labor and giving birth naturally because of how much time had taken place). How they were able to justify that bill I will never understand, as little to nothing was done for me, I just made a bloody mess:/

  • I worked at Redwood Hospital 6 months, and was consistently blown away each time I realized how poorly operated it is! Patients routinely waited in the lobby and the ER hallway for hours and hours, folks waited 3 hours to be seen in XRAY, Lab, and other departments, and, the patients just seemed to sit in docility as the process occurred.

    My department was a mess, the layout was well past inadvisable and on out into dangerous, there were staff members who were unfit for duty (crazy, on drugs, limited by physical disabilities) on every shift, and, all suggestions to improve safety, improve patient flow, and to improve operational efficiency were completely ignored by managers and administrators.

    One staff member who was clearly impaired each time I worked with her was left on staff, while my hours were cut after I complained. Finally I refused to work with her, and then resigned to work over in Chico.

    Most Emergency Rooms in Humboldt and in Northern California for that matter, from Nevada to Arcata, are clogged with the lame and the drug seeking. Hospitals depend upon the income from ER’s to operate, but the CHP is always showing up with another drunk who crashed his car, the ambulance is always bringing in another bum who DFO’d on wine and meth, and, there is always another patient who is in “pain”…

    Hospitals have to deal with the flow of Motor Vehicle Accidents, Gunshot Wounds, Knife Wounds, Drug Overdoses, and the general drama of the population.

    There are, for the 99th time, better choices available to the South. Howard Hospital, in Willits, is much more efficient, and more focused upon patient flow. It is no better staffed, however.

    My advice, after 5 years of working in Humboldt, avoid, like plague, Jerold Phelps Hospital, Redwood Hospital, and St Josephs. Mad River Hospital is not much better. Mendo Coast Hospital is just a big old mess, like most District Hospitals…

    In a real emergency, get help fast. If it’s an injury, pain, or Women’s Health, head for Willits.

    Subscribe to Helicopter Ambulance service for your whole family, it’s cheap and the Air Nurse is better equipped than the average ER, the crew is highly trained and focused on getting you to care. If you need medical care often, consider moving closer to a town containing better medical facilities.

    That’s it. Redwood Hospital is what it is. Redwood Hospital is not a nice place to work, it has no better staff than anywhere else, and all the challenges of operating a hospital are always present. It is a hospital, but, you will have to accept the limitations that exist in Humboldt County. There is no excuse for maintaining persons on staff who are unfit to work, but there it is…

    St Josephs is one of those old-school companies that refuses to modernize or improve. St Josephs runs a skeleton staff, and routinely ignores safety issues. St Joseph’s also routinely abuses and harasses it’s staff, gas-lights, and has a staff of “compliance officers” that is always ready to accuse and blame… They also have the regular set of highly paid administrators, who constantly tell rosy lies about everything…

    Once again, always remember to thank and appreciate the folks who staff the hospitals. These people dedicate their lives to serving the public, and, they often suffer from stress, overwork, and the terrible management present in their workplaces. Give them hugs and say thanks!

  • So if not local ER, then where? Just asking.

  • I like stars too!

    Howard Hospital.

    Enloe, in Chico.



    Santa Rosa.


  • I waited 12 hours to see an ER doctor at St. Joseph’s hospital in Eureka

  • I particularly like how the ER doctors are from out of the area and considered “not in network” when it comes to insurance billing. The bills you receive from them are absolutely ridiculous. When you call St. Joe’s to discuss the ER doctor bills they say there is nothing they can do. Doesn’t St . Joe’s contract with these ER doctors? When you call the doctors billing service which I believe is in Las Vegas you are met with a stone wall. Even with insurance the cost of an ER visit is ridiculous. A 10 second EKG is over 500 dollars. This hospital and it’s administrators have no integrity. No shame. And assume no responsibility. I feel sorry for the nurses who have to work with these people.

  • I like stars too!

    Howard Hospital has Physicians who work for the hospital. Costs are large wherever you go, but particularly high at Jerold Phelps!

    If you have to pay cash, tell them when you register, and settle the bill before you leave for the best discount!

  • This not a simple problem to address. It has a lot to do with where we live. We have a huge shortage of medical personnel, which leads to compound problems. For example, there aren’t enough family doctors. Therefore, people without a family doctor often go to the ER for treatment of a bad cold, minor infection, or any number of ailments they would usually address with their doctor. Those who do have doctors must often wait days or weeks to get in, so they, too, go to the ER. Those cases often delay treatment for people who might need more immediate care for a traumatic condition. Other issues …lack of mental health treatment facilities and substance use disorder facilities also leads people to the ER. It becomes a catch-all. Also, because of the doctor shortage many “traveling” physicians end up being contracted with to address the need. They are less invested in the community and it sometimes shows. The shortage IS being addressed through a long term solution. St. Joe’s and Open Door have partnered to create a residency program for family medicine doctors. It starts next July. After three years, there will be 18 residents being trained here. Each year six will graduate. Research shows that about 55% of residents set up practice in the area where they trained. There’s hope.

    • Simply blaming bad service, short staffing, and incompetent management on”a doctor shortage” seems as disingenuous as all other responses one would hear from St Joseph’s Management. There is no end of excuses for the awful operations of Humboldt County medical facilities!

      There is a shortage of family practice physicians almost everywhere in the USA. People go and wait in the ER because they don’t want to wait for an appointment in a clinic for 3 weeks… There is also a surplus of patients in Northern California that have Medi-Cal cards, and who seem to regard going to the ER as “entertainment”…

      Residencies in Humboldt will bring folks who couldn’t get one elsewhere, and whom will leave as soon as they are licensed. Also, for every newly-minted Doctor, 2 retire. As you move out of the city, you find out that facilities are staffed by Physicians over the age of 60, and many who are in their 70’s and beyond. Honestly, if you removed all the Hospital Employees over the age of 65, you would have a small staff left!

      The many of us still working past 65, and who are on a mission to facilitate the delivery of critically needed services in remote and tough-to-staff locations, we all hope that the government of California and the USA will wake the heck up and start working to build, staff, and maintain hospitals. We are going to need them, and many are failing.

      St. Josephs is what it is, and not a very good example of modern Healthcare at it’s finest, but go down to San Francisco and check out Mark Zuckerberg Hospital, a crumbling wreck staffed by kids. If Mark can keep it going, so can Uncle Sam!

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