If Garberville Hospital ‘wants a future, it needs a better present,’ Urges Letter to the Editor

Photo from the SHCHD website

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To the Community,

An SHCHD representative indicated, in a recent post, that those at SHCHD are “shocked” that they received less than half of the needed votes to pass the tax proposal known as Measure W.

Measure W, which would have added $74,000,000 to our property taxes over 45 years for SHCHD to use as it saw fit, was a non-starter in SoHum.

In my opinion, the rejection of Measure W is a clear indication that SHCHD has lost the support of the community. It is not a matter of the public failing to support the facility, it is a matter of the facility failing to serve the community!

SHCHD is a California Healthcare District, which operates a Skilled Nursing Facility, a General Clinic, and a very limited Hospital/ER. Jerold Phelps Hospital has a limited lab, some XRAY/Mammogrphy, and Physical Therapy.

Let’s remember: This is a publicly owned facility, and the employees of SHCHD are public employees. The District is under an elected Governing Board.

SHCHD is now “table-ing” at the Garberville Farmer’s Market, in yet another of it’s attempts educate, do PR, and gauge the temperature of the public. I presume that there will be more of the usual promotion, and that this effort will feature board members, employees and possibly administrators in an attempt to engage citizens and solicit their opinions. I assume also, that another ballot measure is planned.

I encourage folks who are interested, to adopt the mission of informing the persons at SHCHD that the recent election itself is a clear indicator of the disposition of the citizenry, and that SHCHD should stop wasting time polling and doing PR, and instead start working to hire some providers, and offer the services that the public would like to consume. I recommend that SHCHD explore and supply Women’s Health, Pain Management, Pediatrics, Behavioral Health including Drug Rehab, Oncology, Internal Medicine and Cardiology, and a Full Service Pharmacy.

I also continue to recommend that SHCHD work to repair it’s relationship with the community by operating more transparently, updating it’s own website more regularly, always being truthful, and by making up for the previous CEO’s practice of whimsically firing and banning the rehiring of employees, based on no policies or any sensible procedures as should be expected in a public agency!

SHCHD should always operate honestly, and should avoid misleading the public in every way, and, SHCHD should deliver good value in healthcare, by pricing it’s services competitively and billing competently. SHCHD should always exhibit a spirit of compliance with State and Federal laws, including employment law.

SHCHD should offer decent salaries and competitive benefits to it’s employees, and should have fair, sensible employment policies, reasonable expectations for new employees, and documented training and competency assessments as required by law. SHCHD should always give direction and communicate it’s expectations to employees.

When SHCHD makes the investment in adequate staff, and develops profitable lines of business which the population actually needs and desires, it is possible that the image of the district will improve. When people using the facility receive great service, and desired services, the public perception of the district will become more positive.

When SHCHD does a better job with what it has now, when SHCHD endeavors to maintain a competent, well trained permanent staff of highly qualified locals, when SHCHD works to raise funds through profitable operation, donations from wealthy individuals, government grants and other methods such as a foundation or an Auxilliary, it may become possible to pass a bond or property tax to support a new facility.

*         *           *            *          *          *           *            *          *           *             *

So the message is: SHCHD – make the investment, show improvement managing what you have, and repair relationships. Evolve and go forward! Give quality service, and end your attachments with provincial prejudices, and abandon your tendency to be stuck in the past!

It is also my sincere belief that if you just give people something, they will never appreciate it. If people work together and build a new hospital themselves, they will patronize and support it!

Finally, if SHCHD wants a future, it needs a better present! If SHCHD wants a new facility, it will first require a new way of thinking. And,If SHCHD wants to do well, first it will need to do better!

                                              Paul Riley, CLS – Redway



  • “Give quality service, and end your attachments with provincial prejudices, and abandon your tendency to be stuck in the past!”

    While we all want quality service !Getting to that quality of service you have to overlook the fact no quality md is going to apply to work at a sub par facility in the middle of nowhere .After all, “You’ll need to complete four to five years of pre-med preparation, another four years of medical school, and three to seven years of residency.” Then go work in garberviles shitty little ER.No disrespect to the services given .Er residency in garberville, I think not.

  • Its pretty clear that Mr. Riley doesn’t really understand the problems facing the hospital. For that matter all the hospitals in our county. Staffing is one of the main problems that we face here in Humboldt. One of the reasons so many folks are transferred to out of the area facilities is not the shortage of beds its the shortage of staff to support them. Every hospital or general clinic has a long list of positions to be filled. This is not a problem that any board or administration can currently solve. It would be wonderful if we could hire all highly qualified local providers but believe me its not going to happen no matter who is running the healthcare district. The fact that a community this small can support a 24 hour E.R. is unique and shows that this community will support this service. The push for the new hospital was up against a number of issues not the least of which is the economic uncertainty around the impact of legalization. I would urge anyone with constructive solutions to run for the board or put their name into consideration for appointment to any vacancy that may occur. And to Linda, Barbara and Dr. G know that there are many of us who appreciate your service…thank you.

    • Veterans friend

      $74 million. For a sub par facility in a rural backwater.
      You border on mental illness.
      Improve ambulance service heading north & south. The community would support THAT

      • Not a Shitty Ambulance medic

        You need to talk to Shitty, I mean City Ambulance up in Eureka for that one. A private, for profit company that whose managers are more impressed with their cool cars and expensive shoes than providing quality care to the denizens of SoHum

    • Mr. Kirby you are correct. The hospital is facing problems which the board and administration can not currently solve, yet they are willing to drain another 74 million dollars from property owners to solve problems they can not solve. Rather ridiculous, wouldn’t you agree? Solve the problems you have now because they only amplify with a larger facility. Seems as though it’s time to overhaul the administration. In the past 10 years the hospital services have been on a rapid decline including the loss of all physicians. How do you propose to run a hospital without proper staff? You state there is a shortage of staff with a long list of positions. What you have said is that they can not fill the positions for this small hospital and therefore, would make it impossible of ever coming close to filling new positions required in a much larger facility. Yes, the staffing issue is county wide. I have spoken to many who have gone to other counties and states and current physicians within the county. Each has the same explanation, hospital administration. These doctors have chosen to leave so they would be able to practice medicine as they were trained to, in the best interest of the patient, instead of the best interest of the hospital wallet. I voted for the So Hum property tax twice so the hospital would receive funding for “better equipment so patients would not have to be transferred to another facility.” Where exactly is all the “better” equipment and why has everyone continued to be transferred? And, seriously, can you not put one single chair in front of your lab so old people can sit while they wait! Not my idea of “better” equipment but it shows lack of consideration for patients. Without community support there can be no hospital. The hospital in Willits was built on donated land. There was overwhelming support for the new hospital but only after the community had outgrown the beloved older facility. The new hospital had years upon years of pre-planning which the community was made aware of. Where is Garberville’s vision? I was only made aware of the expansion just before it was time to vote. This hospital needs to reevaluate the foundation it sits on before trying to increase the load. Take this tiny facility and make it shine. Then, and only then, you might see more support. But not mine ever again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

      • I don’t know when this started but I’ve been to the lab twice in the last week. I was directed to chairs to wait in until the lab was ready for me.

        • How very fortunate for you. Not so fortunate for the elderly couple who were instructed to proceed to the lab only to be told it would be a few more minutes. The man with a cane and the woman with a shuffle stood against the wall where no chairs were available. I offered to find them chairs but the few at the check in desk were full.

        • Haven’t seen any corruption since Barbara Mitchell was chased out of town. What are you talking about? Incompetence is in the eye of the beholder. One persons noble healer is the next person’s quack.

    • Former SHCHD supporter/employee

      Mr Kirby, There has been MANY, dedicated, educated, hard working employees that truly care about patients and the job they perform. Unfortunately, the board allowed Harry Jasper full rein to ruin the livelihood of many hard working local people even though they were aware of his deceit and poor management. That’s when the integrity of SHCHD was ruined! The amount of money spent on consultants with the recommendations never implemented could of been a very large start on building a new facility. The board should of listened to the people then and I’m sure this outcome would of been different.

    • Ernie Branscomb

      This reminds me of the old fable about the hippopotamus that fell in love with the butterfly. It could all work, all we need to do is work out the details.

      Mendocino County is smaller than Humboldt, yet Willits has a brand new hospital with good doctors and medical specialists, and good equipment. If they can do it, why can’t we? Maybe we could consult with them and see what their approach was.

      It’s time to sprout wings, there is a tough slog ahead.

      • E….Mendo county is small but there are a whole lot more people in Willit’s area of service than here.

        • Ernie Branscomb

          I think it is more than demographics. Willits is only a few short miles from the Ukiah and Santa Rosa hospitals. I think they should at least consult With them.

          Plus, I was born in the willits hospital. That should be a good recommendation in itself.

          • Lefthanded Lunatics

            Dave K: Let me see if I got this straight – Nobody knows anything but you,
            but your pals at SHCHD can’t do anything, because, you can’t, and also nobody else can either, but you still need a butt-load of cash so you can continue not being able to do, anything? But we have an ER!
            Two of the biggest problems at SHCHD appear to be corruption and, well, incompetence! Your statements are not helping, Dave.
            I would like to hear what, exactly, SHCHD is able to do, not more excuses.

          • Patriot in Willits

            Never had the need to visit Garberville hospital, but I can say with certainty that the new Howard Memorial is first rate. If I would suggest anything, it would be to make sure your helipad is refurbished to ensure the smooth transportation of patients south.

            • Patriot….Google Howard Memorial and read the revues. Some think the place is wonderful and some think its a horrible place. My point is that people are very touchy about healthcare. I suspect Howard is a helpful place but there are always going to be a significant number of patients that will find serious problems with any hospital.

              • Lefthanded Lunatics

                Let’s see. A real hospital is inferior to a substandard, corrupt, incompetent one? Adventist Health is not as good as Jerold Phelps? People are touchy about everything, but your point is, you have no point. Dave, why are you posting again?

    • From what I have read, it was implied that a lack of housing was a large contributor to the lack of finding and retaining doctors and staff. Is that true? If so, maybe there should be some effort to acquire housing, by purchasing or making deals with local property owners.
      In another state I am familiar with, a friend who works at the hospital rents her house from…. the hospital. It’s near it, and I guess was purchased in case the facility wanted to expand.
      While challenging, employee housing seems like a problem that can be overcome.

      • B…. The hospital does have a house for the M.D.s that work at the hospital and that includes both the E.R docs and Dr. G when he is here. We almost lost Dr. G. recently when the house was burglarized and some of his personal possessions were taken while he was working in the E.R.. Welcome to Garberville Doc.

  • We need an urgent care/trauma center not a hospital with the starting price tag of 10s of millions of dollars. The cost of a new hospital can’t be justified by the tiny amount of people it serves. The math will never add up in this day and age.

  • Does that mean new break room is out?

  • It's Too Late Baby

    By now I think most of us have gotten used to just having to travel elsewhere for any sort of competent care. I’m with “Veteran’s Friend” who earlier posted that we would be better off seeking improved ambulance service to out-of-the-area facilities.

  • Sadly sadly the boards of the last ten years allowed a cute little man to squander the funds and goodwill of the last two parcel taxes. In preparing to vote on w I went back over the redwood times pieces on the 2010 debaucle with Cherney, Jasper, Wilson and if course Phelps. Poor Harry could not figure out what was going on. Mrs Wilson was of no help and by the time Phelps was ousted, the community had lost faith. The hospital was told then they would not get another parcel tax if they pursued that track. Seven years later, they were right. Harry Jasper should not have gotten a raise until after he had secured funding, not for a temporary seismic redo, but for the 2050 standards!! Then he would have merited the money. Too late now. As a voter, I don’t need all that Riley lists to return to confidence, but the new guy has got to do more for me than come up with a spending plan while threatening my favorite building in sohum(osprey).

    I need an er that doesn’t utilize the drug seeker morality bs mentality. Blaaa!!!

    Let’s hire some Cuban doctors! They have a good medical education program and a need for expat jobs, and our level of pay should meet their needs cuz they don’t have student debt!

    I need to be treated like a person not an insurance claim. Sigh. Instead of the typical billing of cash payers to make up for the losses of whatever, whyn’t you just charge me a fee for what happened to me? I bet folks come running from outside the zone for that. Lots of Humboldt and Mendocino don’t want to deal with insurance. Especially now that it looks like obamacare is going away.

    Obstetrics may be too much, but gynecology and general women’s health up to birth would serve us well.

    And geriatric specialty would be brilliant given the aging nature of the voters most likely to support a future tax.

    Oh, and nice new CEO, you’re going to have to think of a way to actually save money. I don’t mean simply not spend funds, I mean get actual money into a trust or interest earning investment, or however. That’s how many people around here still pay for what they want. Not much credit pursued in these parts. Look at the bankruptcy and foreclosure recorded for sohum from 2008-now. Almost non-existant. Because we aren’t dependent on debt.

    Love ya. Hope you stick with us, but if they told you this would be easy, they were “forgetful.”

    • Can we elect you?

    • E…Some good points. I too thought geriatrics would be a good thing to emphasize with us boomers getting older. I know Bill Hunter went back to school so as to be up to date in that field. When we looked at it we found the older one gets the more likely you are to be seeing specialists instead of general practitioners. So its not an obvious benefit. I remember when the hospital stopped delivering babies they caught some flak. The last year that the hospital had ob/ gyn there were like 6 babies born in house. When the state regs. required the hospital to have two ob/gyn registered nurses on staff to continue the service that decided the issue. As mentioned in this thread, in modern healthcare there is a constant conflict with personal care and the institution’s bottom line. For a provider the pressure to see more patients is at odds with their need to make a more meaningful connection with the person. The days when a guy like Jerrold Phelps a man of many talents and a friend to many are sadly gone. It takes a building full of people to support one provider in an overly complicated and regulated business that needs to move to a single payer system sooner rather than later

  • Measure W, which would have stolen $74,000,000 out of the pockets of one group of citizens, under threat of arrest by gunpoint.
    There, fixed that for ya.

  • I miss Dr. Phelps.

  • Don’t you people understand? We don’t want any more taxes! No more parcel taxes-PERIOD! Stop If you want Willits hospital – move to Willits!

  • One last shot, Dave:

    You don’t own that hospital. You are not on the board or otherwise employed there. SHCHD is supposed to be operated by all the citizens of SoHum for their general welfare.

    When local businessmen control things, we will have corruption. When the board is comprised of APPOINTED members, instead of ELECTED members, we will have incompetence and corruption, and probably nepotism too.

    The board is corrupt, the administrators are corrupt, and you, a lone local eccentric, don’t get to decide what is real.

    Everyone at SHCHD serves at the pleasure of the community. Reality.
    If the community is not pleased, SHCHD may well cease to exist, and this outcome may well be optimal.

    It is not a private club, it is a healthcare facility. If very little healthcare occurs there, then it is a waste of the public’s money, and it should be closed or turned over to a professional management company.

    Whatever dream world the Board, Administrators and the few supporters of SHCHD exist within, the recent election shows that it is time to wake up.

    It is fully possible that all individuals occupying board seats and admin desks at SHCHD are unfit to serve.

    What should SoHum do?

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