Thank you, Southern Humboldt Community Hospital; Letter Writer Praises the Care She Received

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Photo from the SHCHD website

An open letter to the community:

I had an extremely good experience at our local hospital emergency room. Southern Humboldt community hospital. Admitting was warm, pleasant, swift and helpful…[S]he even finished filling it out for me. I apologized for having to come in on the weekend, and they were tender and caring. They brought me a heated blanket…the nurse stayed with me..only to disappear for a few…seconds. She did take her lunch and another angel appeared…then my original Angel was back…I can’t imagine that that her lunch was even 10 minutes at that.

They swabbed my nose to determine if I had the flu,no flu. [T]hey brought me a pillow for the small of my back, and water. They gave me a nice breathing treatment that really opened things up.

Then the Dr. [m]ade me take a breath that erupted into spontaneous coughing, so he knew to prescribe strong cough medicine.

Then today I got a follow up call to check on me.Also they gave me personalized follow up instructions.

I spent a three day stint a month ago visiting my friend that was admitted, the hospital was alive…with present caring staff. [I]t was clean and warm. I will be going here rather than going north only to sit in mothballs…and all the nurses are giggling and spending a great deal of time chattering about their personal lives. A little bit of that is okay as long as no one has need. I was sceptical when [a friend] said she had a good experience…[S]he is usually pretty tough if things aren’t proper, but she was right…[I]think we have a good change around. Thank you, Southern Humboldt Community Hospital. Carol Speakman/September Gray



  • Taurus Ballzhoff

    It IS a relief that they were able to make you feel better, and give you a prescription for cough medicine.

    I hope you feel better soon! Thanks for your letter!

    This just about represents the maximum level of care available at SHCHD. Choose your healthcare facility wisely and according to your means and present needs.

  • It’s a relief to know they can prescribe cough syrup right;<) I wish my last experience there was that good.

  • Veterans friend

    So they did what any hospital is supposed to do.
    Be thankful that this was all you needed because for anything much more serious you would have had to go north to the real hospital or if very serious, be flown (at a cost of $30-70,000 to Santa Rosa or Redding.

  • I think if you actually check it out you’ll find you won’t receive any better care at the ERs up north than you will here. You will almost certainly wait longer to be seen. The docs that staff our E.R. are better qualified than the old days when local M.D. s worked in the E.R.. Several years ago I visited our E.R. on a number of occasions for a heart condition and was impressed with the competence of the M.D.s and nurses that attended me. In fact the information given me was more accurate than what I received from a Cardiologist up north.

    • Taurus Ballzhoff

      Now THAT is a wild assertion…

      The ER at JPH is primitive, shoddily equipped, frequently unsightly, and likely to be operated with poorly trained persons.

      The ER at Howard hospital offers modern equipment, a high level of privacy, and a cast of employees well trained to choreograph your care. It has an extensive and modern laboratory, up to date CT, MRI and radiology equipment, and several physicians on staff at all times.

      Redwood Hospital and St Joseph’s are similarly equipped and staffed, even thought they are located in undesirable locations…

      Jerold Phelps Hospital can slap on a band-aid or stitch your cut but you would be carried by the ambulance well past Garberville for any serious injury or condition.

    • Veteran's Friend

      You have an axe to grind here and we are all pretty much aware of it Mr. Kirby.

  • Taurus…You are a typical disgruntled ex employee. The next time you need an E.R. try to get a ride to Willits. You’re just pissed off because you couldn’t cut here. Seeing as how we have a rotating group of trauma docs any blanket statement you make is b.s.. Or I guess I should say Taurus shit. Grow up.

    • Taurus Ballzhoff

      I do understand that elderly locals everywhere love their little hospitals. It is what you have, after all…

      I work in healthcare, I do not sit on the sidelines and make silly comments about how wonderful something is, when it is clearly not wonderful.

      Calling me a “disgruntled” ex-employee implies that I did something wrong, or that what I did do was not enough somehow.

      Fact is, you don’t know anything.

      You may love your hospital, and I leave you to it.

      Some folks have rational thoughts, and a different opinion, based upon facts and experience, and not emotions.

      You calling JPH a wonderful place, as good as any other modern hospital offering a wide assortment of services using modern methods and facilities, is fantastic and puerile.

      SHCHD does not offer trauma at any level, surgery, obstetrics, or many many other services, and it barely has a pharmacy adequate to the SNF.

      Consider the facts before you sing a rhapsody of praises for your tiny, old, sad facility.

    • A few years ago I sliped with a razor knife on the job site and stab myself in the wrist severing a vein, with the blood pumping out it looked a lot more severe than it was. So I bit the bullet and went into Garberville Hospital. I was only in there for about an hour of which I spent maybe 15 minutes with the doctor, he applied two stitches one to the end of the vein to shut it off and the other one to the wound to close it up. I was charged over $3,000 . After requesting an itemized billing list and contesting the charges, I found they had doubles and in one case triple charge me for many things including three $460 hemostats amongst several different dressings and medications that were not given to me all of which they charge ridiculous amount for. To make matters worse the stitch he put in my arm to close off the vein was non dissolvable and it took over 6 months for that Stitch to work its way out of my body, the whole time causing a reoccurring open wound that was prone to infection. That’s the last time I will go to the hospital I was born in… and this is not the first bad experience I’ve had there by far.

  • And the author of this letter is whom?

  • You get what you pay for and, considering that, we do all right most of the time. Ms. Speakman was a bit overboard perhaps but so are many of the complainers. It’s wrong to assign to others the state of one’s health as if we have no influence ourselves.. It is also right to expect healthcare workers to do their best and be professional. Again, I think we do all right most of the time.

    • Taurus Ballzhoff

      You are partly right.

      A healthcare facility aiming to squeak along, and fly under the radar of State and Federal law, well, that is a standard of a sort.

      When you have such a bad reputation among allied health care professionals that you have to hire foreigners with H1B visas, well, that is a standard, of some sort, I suppose…

      “Just keeping the doors open”, was the standard that Gary Wellborn and Barbara Truitt apparently aimed for, and that is not really an appropriate goal… Thanks for your service, but the service you get from SHCHD may or may not be satisfactory, and that is hardly a standard.

      When you have , really, very little support in your own community, but never change, never make significant progress, and stumble along from year to year, then the standard is “to do poorly”.

      If I am paid to work for you, promote your services, do outreach to your community, then I do just that. Stop paying me, and I act from my conscience according to my perceptions and experience.

      It is pretty cheap to hire the help you need. It should be easy, in a growing area, to build something, to grow, to keep moving forward.

      SHCHD has failed to do this.

      To get respect, support and loyalty from your employees and community, this has to be earned.

      SHCHD has not earned my support, my respect, my loyalty. Please think about this during the coming election!

      If SHCHD wants a better future, it will need to build a better present.

  • Veteran's Friend

    The new high tech whatever that is currently being istalled…MRI or CT ….is a shameful waste of resources. With all that available only 25 minutes away….hospitals are SUPPOSED to collaborate & share resources. This is being done solely to bolster the hospital’s profile in advance of the coming election. So we will be coerced into feeling we must throw good money after bad. Shame on Truett & Welborn.

    • Taurus Ballzhoff

      Waste your money is what SHCHD does best!

      Extraneous elections for idiotic ideas cost us money, as in the case of Measure W. Hiring contractors to solve problems caused by overpaid and low performing leaders, in the case of Matt Rees, and straight up incompetent leaders, in the case of Kent Scown, and hiring travelers, locums, and more contractors, to fill positions which have been repeatedly hired and fired for years, such as in the lab and in Xray, costs more than effective recruiting and retention.

      This plan to add CT has been kicking around for over 6 years, and the usefulness of CT is not high enough to justify the installation. Even if the CT unit is leased, the monthly payments could well bankrupt the district.

      Now we are faced with another parcel tax election, and the costs associated with again trying to shove the tax down our throats! The district KNOWS there is not 66% of the property owners in support of such a continued tax.

      Why do they do the same things, talk the same talk, hire ineffective leaders, and fail to change, to evolve, to remove the old guard?

      Why also, have none of the 3 new board members been selected by election? Why appoint your cronies, your friends, more people just like the old ones?

      Why indeed does the community allow this public agency to continue to fail us, year after year?

      I can’t explain the lack of public scrutiny, but it is easy to see why there is no support for SHCHD.

      Please do not allow SHCHD to waste even more of your money, and vote NO on extending the parcel tax in June.

      • My question to Taurus’s question as to why none of the board members were chosen by election — and I ask this question about other public board in this area — hang on, here’s the question:

        Did anyone step up to the plate, throw their hat in the ring, and actually RUN for election????

        My experience has been that in every election cycle (not just in G’ville, but in many small towns) there are many seats for which NO candidates apply. Then the next higher level of government (the county board of supervisors, in this case) has to appoint people to fill in the seats — at least enough for a quorum so that the local agency, SHCHD, or whichever, can continue to function.

        • Taurus Ballzhoff

          Since the board does very little anyway, and does little over long periods of time, like years, I don’t think members are appointed to get a quorum. I do think that the hospital board can’t be bothered to hold elections because they don’t want outsiders to be elected…

          They seem to have elections for unpopular and idiotic tax measures just anytime at all…

          I am unable to apologize for the manner in which the SHCHD board functions, as you do, since they hardly function at all…

          Your hospital is operated by a cast of characters who operate in private, and largely in the dark. Your public agency is not actually operated publicly, and functions mostly as a fiefdom, rather than an organization. The lack of public scrutiny is inexplicable, but in the far past, when they actually scheduled elections, there were candidates…

    • I don’t know how you drive, but google maps says it is 50 miles / 51 minutes from Jerold Phelps Community Hospital to Redwood Memorial Hospital. Good luck with that drive if you are having a stroke or are suffering from a head trauma and need a CT scan before you can be treated.

      • Taurus Ballzhoff

        The cost of a CT scan unit is between $10,000 and $15,000/month. You will also need a person, trained and licensed, present or on call at all times. This alone will cost you $7000.00 to $9000.00 per month. Now, let us consider.

        If I am having a stroke, I will be in an ambulance that will not stop at JPH. If I am having a Pulmonary Embolism, I hope I don’t end up at JPH! A Myocardial Infarct? Shit. Take me somewhere else!

        The minutes you spend on a table at Jerold Phelps Hospital, comprise a serious delay in treatment. I hope the ambulance takes you to the airport, and you catch a helicopter out! If you have to ride to St Josephs or Howard, you are still going to have a better chance.

        If you have a heart attack out in Shelter Cove, well, nice knowing you. Persons who have suffered MI’s in remote locations are delivered to and pronounced deceased at JPH every month.

        For the few times a CT is really needed, the cost is too high! The thing would generate some billings, but the break even point, it will be higher than the actual revenue.

        Hospitals have been pushed into bankruptcy by CT units before, maybe you can be next! See: Southern Inyo Healthcare District

  • The fact is that a community our size is very fortunate to have the medical facilities we have. With Redwoods Rural and the Healthcare District I can’t think of another small town that has the range of services we do. Our hospital has been designated as a Critical Access institution due to the distance from the nearest emergency room. When the parcel tax was raised to its current level a community survey showed that 8 out of 10 respondents felt the emergency room was no. 1 on their list of services offered by the district. With the changing economy we will be challenged to keep the services we have. Any one who has priced health insurance costs knows that ten dollars a month to keep our E.R. open is a no brainer. It is also evident that property values will be under pressure as the air goes out of the cannabis business. Add the loss of the E.R. the hit to real estate values will be many times the $125.00 parcel tax. As the population ages fewer elderly are going to want to live here with no E.R.. If one looks at reviews on the web you’ll find bitter criticism of every hospital in our region. Folks are very touchy about healthcare delivery but individual bad experiences should not be the basis for withdrawing support for the services we have.

  • Taurus Ballzhoff

    Mr Kirby,

    Once again, you have failed to bore us with any facts!

    The fear-based campaign to support Measure W stated:

    The sky will fall without this tax!
    The ER will close!
    Property values will plummet!

    Here are some facts:

    Measure W failed to pass by a very significant margin.
    The sky has not fallen.
    The ER has not closed.
    SoHum property values are at an all-time high.
    RRHC has a “range of services” and no parcel tax.


    The cost of health insurance has nothing at all to do with taxing yourself to keep SHCHD in the general funds they feel they need so that they can continue to do a very poor job for us.

    Here is one more thing to consider:

    Why should only the property owners in SoHum be taxed so that a few old timers and little old ladies will be able to get some medical care, while almost everyone else leaves to the north or south, to get better care at a better facility?

    Taxes on real property are unfairly applied, and even if it is “only” $125.00/year, why would the folks who don’t use SHCHD for anything at all want to pay extra property tax to support this broken, tired, old backstreet mess?

    I certainly do not.

    Come up with a reasonable scheme, or generate money through donations, or by developing profitable lines of business, and quit begging for the support you have continuously failed to generate in the community!


    • RRHC cannot place a parcel tax measure on the ballot because they are a non-profit organization, whereas the Hospital District is a special district (public entity). They are fundementally different types of organizations who secure funding differently.

      This is getting really tiresome, Paul.

      • Taurus Ballzhoff

        What is tiresome is the fact that even now, the district is creating it’s own problems.

        Healthcare districts are not private businesses, and should be operated in the interest of the public.

        The way SHCHD operates creates the environment it operates in, and in this case, the environment is a “support vacuum”.

        You may not like my assertion, but your district built it, just as it created my opposition to paying extra tax.

  • Tball….Measure W was about building a replacement hospital to satisfy the state earthquake safety guidelines. The hospital is, by law, chartered as a non profit which must treat any patient presenting regardless of ability to pay. The E.R. has always lost money. The hospital has not made a profit for decades which was why Dr. Jerrold Phelps and his partner sold it in the first place. It was purchased with a federal bond. Redwoods Rural doesn’t have an E.R. and their FQHC funding is different from the district. The main and historical mission of our E.R. has been to treat and stabilize the patients condition. More and more critical patients are transfered not just north but out of the area as St. Joe’s and Redwood Memorial suffer staffing issues common to the entire county. Actually if you knew anything about local healthcare you’d know that”old timers and little old ladies” are more likely to go out of the area for specialist care than any other age group. I can’t believe that someone who claims to care about healthcare is urging people to vote against a tax that has been keeping the E.R. open for decades against all odds. Small hospitals are an endangered species all over California and it has been our community that stepped up and taken the responsibility for their healthcare options.

  • Taurus Ballzhoff

    I hardly think I am irresponsible, following a very long career in healthcare.

    Proposition W was a screwball plot to purchase a building which SHUSD sold to CR in another screwy Garberville deal, and then use the promise of the tax money to finance a USDA loan to build a “new hospital”.

    Please don’t again twist the facts.

    RRHD is Federally funded, but the preponderantly “on Medicare or Medi-cal” population of patients at SHCHD represents a “Federally funded” status of it’s own!
    Even the indigents delivered to your “ER” tend to be on SSI.

    Don’t forget that I worked there, in your silly hospital, and that I know a thing or two about the business side of things… Of course the ER loses money! You pay your ER docs $10,000/week! That’s a half million in salaries alone for just the ER doctors!

    Now you want to add CT, and you want the public to pay for it, and your CEO’s $220,000 salary!

    My only question is, who the heck do you people think you are fooling?

    Dave, why do you think you are running things? You are not on the board, you have a novelty/card shop, and may sell some real estate. What is your interest in spinning the public’s point of view?

    Of course older folks travel to see doctors! I am a senior, I have a cardiologist, a dermatologist, a PCP. I worked at your facility, met the patients, worked with your physicians, FNP’s, ER nurses. Don’t tell me that I don’t know anything, since I know more than you want me to know…

    Yes, district hospitals are suffering, but only because many small towns are dying, like Cedarville. Bad managers, bad CEO’s, these people are in circulation. Go up to Fall River Mills and ask how they liked Matt Rees!

    Even larger facilities, like Mendo Coast are in chaos, can’t staff, have been in bankruptcy. Go down to Sonoma West, they can’t operate worth a damn either!

    Many of these facilities have organizational/cultural and community problems just as you do. A small group of people determined to “keep things the same” often fails to do a good job, just as Garberville folks have done. Tightly held and repressively operated, public but influenced by churches to an excessive degree, is is hard to generate support, and even if the community does support you, it is just difficult to make it pay.

    The use of “parcel taxes” unfairly burdens just one group in the community! The tax is not evenly applied to the population. Why should just the property owners be considered to be responsible for providing the hospital?

    Shouldn’t everyone pay? Shouldn’t the facility be operated by the public?

    The way the folks of Garberville think about their hospital is flawed. Too many of the same old people have had control for far too long. It’s not Kent Scown’s hospital, it belongs to the people of the district!

    If you can’t think in a new way, you will be doomed! My message to everyone in the district is: Time to shake it up, turn out the old, get rid of the status quo!

    Dave, if you don’t like the future you face, if the district can’t evolve over time, the whole show is lost already.

    • Paul, do you still live in the district? What’s with your obsession with your former employer… it doesn’t seem healthy.

      “Proposition W was a screwball plot to purchase a building which GSD sold to CR in another screwy Garberville deal”
      GSD never had anything to do with the Ospery building, it was the school district (SHUSD) that sold it to CR.

      Where do you come up with this stuff?

      • Taurus Ballzhoff

        You are correct. My error. Thanks for the correction.

        Is this the only thing that concerns you?

        I am hardly obsessed, but I pay taxes too!

        Work for you, work somewhere else, it’s just a job and it’s not personal. Plenty of places to work and a big shortage of folks that do what I can do…

        The folks at SHCHD did lie to me and screw me over, BTW, and then they made up some garbage about me and terminated my ass. No big deal, not my first time at the rodeo…

        It does amuse me to study organizations, and the characters within. Politics hardly interest me, but when my taxes are wasted, or some bozo tries to hatch a crazy scheme to raise my taxes, I might push back.

        In any case, California Hospitals in general, and District Hospitals in particular, are pretty screwed up, and need to move to the future.

        Let’s get a sandwich at Flavors and talk about it for a few hours! Remember, you were not there, you didn’t see what I saw, or hear what I heard, and you don’t know just what I know…

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