Renew Dr. Cathrine Poterack’s Mad River Community Hospital Contract, Says Letter to the Editor

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Our beloved Humboldt Community,

I feel we (parents of Humboldt children) could use your help with digging deeper!

Our options for medical professionals in Humboldt County are slim pickings! Especially doctors we feel comfortable sending our children to! Hundreds of parents, with a couple hundred children, are up in rials over (Mad River Community Hospital Administration) Doug Shaw’s decision to decline the renewal of Dr. Cathrine Poterack’s contract. With hundreds of patients uninformed of this decision, and Dr. Poterack only given one day of notice, none of us had time to prepare. This was Wednesday, August 15th. The last few days of the week another doctor filled in Dr.Poterack’s position. On Monday August 20th, the new doctor (Dr.Bar) started taking appointments. She is already starting off on the wrong foot, and being very unprofessional! Answering phone calls for lunch dates while in an appointment with one new patient…breasts hanging out of her blouse buttons in front of another, one mother said she was “pushy and rude” while another mom said the new doctor was “forceful and argumentative.” We don’t want to stand for this! This is exactly what is wrong with our healthcare system! Replacing caring, passionate doctors with ones who care so little about your concerns that they are willing to answer a personal phone call during your appointment time. This is infuriating, So we have petitioned the last 5 days in hopes of making an impact, we will also be sending to administration at MRCH. Please help in any way you can, ask questions and shed more light on this topic. Dr. Poterack is so well loved and respected in the Pediatric community, to get rid of a phenomenal doctor like her is tyranny!


As parents with children that are patients of Dr Catherine Poterack we would like to inform you of the egregious mistake you are making by not renewing her contract. She is an asset to your establishment and from a business perspective you will likely lose many patients. None of her patients were informed of this decision by Mad River Hospital Administration, and instead found out through a Facebook post. This was an unprofessional decision. We should have received a letter of notification so that we could voice our dismay and persuade administration to reconsider renewing her contract.

Dr Poterack has a rapport with her patients and their parents. We (parents) trust Dr Poterack and have total confidence that she is providing our children with the highest quality care. She is a true professional that has a respectful and courteous bedside manner, as well as 30+ years of experience as a pediatrician. It is virtually impossible to find doctors like Catherine Poterack that listen to their patients, instead of belittling them as if they do not know their own bodies. She is very passionate about what she does which is evident in her interactions with our children, as well as with us (parents). We have no doubt that she genuinely cares about our children which gives us immense peace of mind that our kids are in excellent hands. Many of us are worried who our children will see now and will follow Dr Poterack to her new place of employment.

We highly recommend and urge you to reconsider this erroneous decision. This petition signifies that this will not be lucrative for your institution.

Link to petition below:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! This woman means so much to our community & we are all still shocked and trying to do anything we can do to support her. Inside sources say that Dr.Poterack is heart broken over D.Shaw’s decision and just trying to pick up the pieces and figure out her next move! ALL of her patients are in limbo waiting to follow her wherever she goes. These patients include some with disabilities, and some in dire medical needs. Let’s help her, and by doing so will help the children and families of Humboldt! After all, she has done wonders for our community, now is our time to give back!

Sara Smith



  • I can’t help wondering what the issues were that could not be resolved? I suppose money is involved or work load but it would be good to know. I frankly miss the days of doctors in private practice although I can see why it ended up like this. Current regulations discourage independent practitioners.

  • Blackberry Amnesia

    The best thing to do here is vote by removing your selves and your children from the care of the provider that you do not like.

    An excellent pediatrician practices at Kimaw Medical Center, so there are alternatives.

    Mad River Hospital, and many other provincial hospitals, tend to solve differences with staff by terminations. Not even medical providers are immune to this sort of management!

    Often, disputes are about money, but, in a small community, there may be major issues here which we will never hear about. Complaints about the manners and dress of a new provider may help, but, in the end, having a provider is better than not having one. Doctors are employees, like everyone else, for better or worse. If you don’t care for the provider, you are free to find another one!

    Fussing in public about your concerns seldom has the desired effect, and the physician you favor is likely to pop up somewhere else in the future!

    Good luck in your attempts to control your provincial hospital!

    • Hmm… don’t like your provider, get another one? Not from around here, huh? If any new doctor at all shows up here, there may be a five minute window before they are no longer accepting new patients. Never mind finding one you like, it’s more like finding one at all. We had a lot of older doctors who came here as a sort of retirement but the ACA enforced so many new regulations, they quit and that source has dried up. As for specialists…

      Lots of public health insurance with low reimbursement rates but plenty of reports and rules and little privately insured to that can offset those low rates, a huge drug addict population and a less than attractive urban life makes our area, which ought to be a paradise, into a place where few doctors want to work and the ones who do come, don’t stay.

      • Blackberry Amnesia

        Mr Guest,

        Please don’t read things wrongly! Consider the meaning. You are good at going off, but occasionally display somewhat uneven temperment!

        I said, “you are free to find another”, I did not say that it was easy!

        I myself leave Humboldt County when my providers seem inadequate. Good providers that you like are very difficult to locate! And you will have to wait to be seen!

        Medical care in California is expensive, sometimes obtuse, and requires you to be serene and tolerant. I think that’s why they call us “patients”. Providers may not be what we expect, and they may not appear to be very great at their jobs, and that’s why they call it “practicing”. Hospitals are filled with people who are just learning, and that’s why they call the hospital a “Campus”…

        Before you criticize, read all the sentences carefully! Thanks!

        • That idea is like telling a person to eat when there is no food. There is likely no “other provider.” Leave Humboldt Co for care? I’ve done it too but that of course necessitates having the time, money, freedom and health to get a day or two off. Or several days with several trips. For example go to San Francisco for a consultation. You return for the schedule tests. After the tests, maybe after a couple of more returns for more tests, another consultation. Then the consultant schedules a visit with a surgeon at a later date, who then sends you to be scheduled for surgery , who then arranges for a time to come back for the surgery. Meanwhile the costs of travel and stays for the 5 or 6 visits exceeds the cost of the surgery. If your work, finances and resposibilities allow it at all.

          Of couse, if it’s urgent or life threatening, all that nonsense of travel is curtailed as death makes it unnecessary.

          I’ll tell you what- if you keep your personal views of my uneven temperament to yourself, I won’t express my opinion of your intellect.

          • Blackberry Amnesia

            May all your conditions resolve. May you be happier.

            I can’t solve the puzzle of Mad River Hospital, St. Joseph’s, Redwood Hospital, Jerold Phelps Hospital, Mendo Coast Hospital, or even Howard Hospital. They all exhibit strangeness and charm beyond my ken.

            Fussing, solves nothing. You know what you know, and so do I.

            Let’s agree to be constructive, at least and not attack each other!

            Thanks so much!

    • Does life go on?

      To blackberry amnesia. Your response is condescending and arrogant. You try finding a decent doctor around here.

      • Blackberry Amnesia

        Or a decent and honest hospital administrator!

        In my opinion, healthcare in rural California is a shambles, and not just in Humboldt!

        Good luck to those with health issues, since Humboldt County is not an optimal area to be sick. Good luck to those with children, and good luck to Seniors!

        Mad River Hospital has experienced considerable internal chaos in the last two years, and it has many challenges.

        Many consumers have issues with their healthcare organization, but you are always welcome to transport to care elsewhere. If you have the ability to travel, excellent options exist. Do your research, be your own advocate, consume healthcare carefully!

        It is possible to accept the level of care which exists in your community, but it may become necessary to participate, care about, and assist your local facility in it’s struggle to operate.

        The general apathy which exists in Humboldt is shocking, and fussing, when things don’t go just the way you would like, may not help.

        Get involved, work from within. Prepare to be frustrated!

        Remember, there is a critical shortage of providers, and you may not love the ones you get at first sight! Having a provider is probably better than not having one!

  • I have to agree. I don’t know this particular doctor, but mine moved away, and I absolutely can not find a new Primary Care Doctor in this county. I have recently followed my old doc to Medford! This is of course very inconvenient, but better than going to Urgent Care every time something’s wrong. St Joe’s got me a new doc, but he was awful, so much so that he left after less than a year. Something really has to be done about this situation.

    • The last visit I made to urgent care, they told me to go to the ER for something that clearly was not an emergency.

  • Thank you Sara, I was hoping for some more information on what had happened.
    Dr. Poterack saved my premature baby’s life not once but twice in the past year. Without her I’m not sure he would be here today. Especially after the fiasco that transpired at the ER at MRCH when he came down with meningitis. Our experience there was horrid.

    I was shocked and tears flowed when for his 9 month well baby check I found out she had been let go. How could they??? She was a God send and a real advocate for her patients. I suspect it was not a money issue on her part. She was the most caring and giving doctor I’ve ever known and she put in long hours and on her own time. She was always available to us. She was not about making money for herself or for the hospital and that is probably the problem. She took as much time with each patient as they needed and not a moment less. That is not good business these days. Patients in and out as quick as possible.
    So sad, hard enough to find a doctor taking new patients and to have a good doctor who will put up with Humboldt County and stay, then some Schmuck in a fancy office somewhere decides that the best doctor is costing too much money as she takes time to talk to her patients.

    Dr. Poterack, if you open practice anywhere in Humboldt, where ever you go, I will bring my babies to you!

    • Debra, check out Dr. Alston with Open Door for your kid. I’ve been taking mine to him for seven years and no complaints. There are some good doctors around, but they may be hard to fine. I steer clear of Mad River Hospital when possible. I’ve had serious problems with them when my father, brother, wife, and kid had serious health issues and went there.

    • One of the problems is that the burdens of regulations have become more than a single or even small group practice can bear. So many doctors have become employees of hospitals because large groups have become the only way to conform to all the reports, forms and requirements. I miss the opinionated small independent practitioner.

  • Dr. Poterack is the best pediatrician any of my children (ages 10 to 6) have seen in the entirety of their lives. She is exceptionally knowledgeable, caring and passionate about her kids. She is an advocate for all children.
    Sure, there’s a new physician occupying her former office now. I’ve heard that she’s terrible. The worst is that when you have insurance with MRCH, you’re stuck with their providers. We were blessed for a short while with Dr. Kitty and how we’re stuck with what we get. Its shameful.

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