Earlier this year, Santa Cruz County was tasked with raising $67 million to purchase and save Watsonville Community Hospital (WCH).
Since the February 2022 formation of the Pajaro Valley Health Care District (PVHCD)—an organization aiming to advocate for community-led, nonprofit health care services by purchasing the hospital—hundreds of donations of varying amounts have been made. Donations have come from government agencies, businesses and organizations, as well as several local families and individuals.
On May 22, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County formed the Watsonville Community Hospital Fund following Driscoll’s announcement of its own $1.75 million matching gift. And now, thanks to donors who recently contributed more than $5 million to the Community Foundation’s fund, PVHCD is $6 million away from reaching its fundraising goal and completing the purchase of the hospital.
“This entire project is an extraordinary testimony to the generosity of our community and the strength of our region’s leaders,” said Susan True, CEO of the Community Foundation. “From Senator John Laird’s heroic work on Senate Bill 418 to establish the new health care district to County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios pulling together a team and resources, to Salud Para La Gente CEO Dori Rose Inda’s ongoing work to keep all the pieces together, to Steven Salyer’s work to run the hospital and so many more. It has taken many hands.”
PVHCD has until Aug. 31 to complete the purchase of the hospital.
WCH has been called a “safety net hospital” by local health providers for its ability to offer care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Donor and Community Foundation board member Kirk Schmidt highlighted the importance of the South County hospital, which provides a range of services to roughly 70,000 residents in the Pajaro Valley and delivers more babies than any other hospital in the county.
“Everyone knows that a community the size of the Pajaro Valley needs a full-service hospital,” Schmidt said. “With a new nonprofit structure, exceptionally competent management and a local board of directors, we will be able to have a successful hospital for many years to come.”
Fellow board member and donor Janet Heien agreed.
“A hospital is such a vital part of any community,” Hein said. “I was born and raised in Watsonville, and the hospital has a lot of good and sad memories for me from when my own family members and friends were patients. As an employer, it’s a critical part of the life of your employees and their families to meet their needs for healthcare and well-being.”