A small group of registered nurses rallied outside Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital Thursday in support of adequate staffing at the Hollister medical facility, which is currently facing a financial emergency.
“(We are) focusing on safe staffing,” said Pedro Silva, an RN at HHMH and member of the California Nurses Association. “We want to make sure that Hazel Hawkins doesn’t reduce any services to the community, and continue (existing) services so our nurses can provide the best care to our community.”
About a half-dozen local nurses participated in the Jan. 26 protest at the hospital on Sunset Drive. The rally was part of a national day of action organized by National Nurses United and the CNA to bring awareness to “unacceptably low staffing levels across the country, fueled by the hospital industry’s prioritization of money over patient care,” the NNU said in a statement prior to the rally.
In response to the CNA’s concerns, HHMH Chief Clinical Officer Barbara Vogelsang said the hospital is not aware of any staffing issues at the Hollister hospital that would be considered “unsafe.”
“We provide sufficient coverage in all departments for safe patient care, which is required by Title 22,” Vogelsang said. “There have not been any reductions in services, with the exception of the home health agency. We are working diligently to secure emergency funding to ensure continued operations at the district.”
The protest comes as HHMH, in particular, faces an uncertain future. In November, the hospital’s governing board declared a fiscal emergency, allowing the district that oversees the facility to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
In December, the hospital sent notices to the nurses and other staff warning of possible layoffs, or even the closure of the hospital, the CNA press release continues.
Earlier this month, the hospital announced that it would be closing its home healthcare as of Jan. 31.
The hospital’s administrators have not yet declared bankruptcy. Earlier this month, HHMH announced that it had received a $3 million loan from the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. Even with that loan and recent cost cuts, hospital administrators are expecting Hazel Hawkins to run out of cash before the end of March.
HHMH is seeking a strategic partner who can help improve the hospital’s long-term financial situation, according to hospital staff.