.Watsonville Community Hospital CEO Leaves

The board will meet on March 22 to discuss its next move and create a strategic plan

Watsonville Community Hospital CEO Steven Salyer has left his post.

In a prepared statement, Salyer said he is leaving for “family reasons.”

“Know that I am incredibly proud of Watsonville Community Hospital and everything we have accomplished thus far,” he added.

The board that oversees the hospital will meet on March 22 to discuss how his replacement will be chosen.

In a letter to employees on Monday, Pajaro Valley Healthcare District Board President John Friel says that the hospital is on a positive financial path and is in “good hands and solid footing for a bright future.”

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At the same meeting, the board will begin creating the hospital’s strategic plan—a roadmap of its long-range operational goals.

“The show must go on,” WCH spokeswoman June Ponce says. “It’s an opportunity for the community to put someone in that visionary role and take the hospital to the next level.”

Salyer was hired in July 2021, just before hospital administrators announced it was facing bankruptcy unless a buyer stepped forward.

Pajaro Valley Healthcare District Project formed to do so and, with the help of Sen. John Laird, made the purchase.

The hospital is now publicly owned and run by its own board, the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District.

A Brief History

Watsonville’s hospital was privately owned for nearly a century after its founding in 1895. But in 1993, it was sold to Community Health Systems, beginning almost three decades of corporate leadership.

CHS created a spinoff company called Quorum Health Corporation in 2016, which sold the hospital to Los Angeles-based Halsen Healthcare in 2019. 

That company sold the physical building and grounds to Alabama-based Medical Properties Trust to lease it from them in a so-called sale/leaseback.

The hospital board ousted Halsen in January 2021, stating that the company could not meet “financial obligations to various stakeholders.” In its place, the board installed Los Angeles-based Prospect Medical Holdings.

Salyer was hired that same year.

The Hospital declared bankruptcy in July 2021, announcing it would close unless a buyer came forward.

Pajaro Valley Healthcare District Project, a group of nonprofit and community leaders, soon formed with the express purpose of making the purpose.

On Feb. 4, 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 418, allowing the group to form Pajaro Valley Healthcare District, giving back local control to the community.

The District appointed its first Board of Directors late last year.

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