Guest View: Former nurse speaks out on hospital situation

Nurses at Hazel Hawkins Hospital protest in front of the hospital in late May. Photo by Nick Lovejoy

Inspirational nurses providing quality healthcare transforms a building into a hospital. This metamorphosis portrays the exact vision of our founding father, T. S. Hawkins. His astounding gift compensated his broken heart by providing unimagined compassion to our small community. The untimely death of his darling granddaughter who had no hospital care moved him to unknown generosity. She was his Shirley Temple. She loved helping the sick and the poor. This observation can be confirmed by looking at her sweet photo hanging next to Madelyn’s Gifts as the aroma of food reaches from the “Little Sunshine café”. Her grandfather nick named this precious sparkle of a child, “Little Sunshine”.
T. S. Hawkins records in his, “Memoirs of a Busy Life” the details of this long awaited dedication. A civic gathering of expectant residents dressed in their Sunday best sat and stood respectful of such a generous day in November, 1907. Families surrounded a well built edifice one year after The Big Quake. These citizens realized that their own lives would be either extended or saved by this astounding gift. T. S. spared no expense as he provided the latest and best equipment with the most up-to-date technology of the time. Keep in mind that Hawkins had purchased the land, the building materials and paid the labor costs. Strike up the chorus of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses that would have made Oriana proud. These voices fan-fared approval as Hawkins handed the keys to the first Hospital Board Chairman, Mr. Briggs in trust for the people of San Benito County
Skip ahead 109 years as the dream of this forward looking man has unfolded to the present. San Benito County residents feel honored to possess our very own healthcare facility. It has since moved and grown quite large but something is amiss. The most important link in healthcare service is weakened. This vulnerable link is chained by the very ones who provide the skillful services for which patients choose hospitals. Our very own dedicated nurses lack support from the board and worse seem to be treated as enemies as since last year they have been stonewalled and demoralized in their effort for a contract. In his wildest dreams T. S. could never have visualized healthcare for profit!
The hospital should not assume advantage over the nurses. Patients want the best care. Nurses want to give it. Upon discharge patients don’t remember their IV Pole, or monitor, or X-Ray, or blood draw. Sick patients always remember the care, concern and love given them by their nurse. A patient treated in this manner will remember and spread the word throughout a community.
Seems to me that stonewalling nurses and hiring expensive lawyers operates in a counter productive manner because it threatens the life of the institution. If this impasse is not corrected a paralysis of healthcare results. Outside, less-knowledgeable nurses are recruited. Critical supplies are interrupted and unattainable. A monkey wrench becomes substituted for an olive branch. The whole community suffers from a downturn in healthcare and a downturn in the economy. This catastrophe becomes an assault to the memories of both T. S. and to Hazel Hawkins.
A healthy community requires a speedy contract settlement providing a continuation of the vision of the extraordinary and generous founder, T. S. Hawkins.
Mary Zanger R.Ph., was a staff pharmacist at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital from 1975 to 1983 and 1992 to 2001.

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