.Watsonville Community Hospital Purchase Comes Closer to Reality

Pajaro Valley Health Care District is on the cusp of returning the hospital to public ownership after securing $25 million from the state

The nonprofit, hoping to purchase Watsonville Community Hospital—and return its control to the community after years of out-of-state corporate ownership—has moved closer to making that a reality with an unexpected infusion of cash.

Sen. John Laird and Assemblymember Robert Rivas announced Thursday that they had secured $25 million to help Pajaro Valley Health Care District (PVHCD) finalize the purchase. The total is $10 million more than the organization expected, says County spokesperson Jason Hoppin, bringing it closer to its $61.7 million goal.

The cash is another achievement for Laird, who earlier this year helped efforts to officially establish the health care district with unanimous approval in both the Assembly and Senate with Senate Bill 418.

“This historic investment by the State of California for healthcare access in the Watsonville region will pay significant dividends to the region for decades to come,” Laird stated in a press release. “In a year’s time, we have created a healthcare district, moved the hospital through bankruptcy proceedings, and now we are on the precipice of finalizing the purchase. This effort saves primary health care access for tens of thousands of Pajaro Valley residents—and saves the hundreds of jobs that are now meeting that need.”

PVHCD now has $49 million, which still falls $12 million short and could upend the sale, Hoppin says.

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Still, organizers plan to continue fundraising efforts until the Aug. 31 deadline.

“We’re working on it on a daily basis and contacting potential funders every day,” he says. “We’re still optimistic this will happen, but it’s not guaranteed.”

PVHCD Board Member Jasmine Nájera praised Laird and Rivas for their work.

“There is nothing more important than making sure people in the Pajaro Valley have access to quality health care,” she says. “This investment is a strong affirmation that our state officials share our goal to keep Watsonville Community Hospital open.”

Rivas agreed. 

“It is critical that every resident, regardless of where in the state they live, has access to comprehensive health services, including important preventative and emergency care,” he stated in a press release. “The $25 million from the State of California will help ensure that this hospital continues to serve the Watsonville area for years to come.”

The allocation supplements a fundraising campaign that features roughly 300 donors—big and small. 

Santa Cruz ($5.5 million) and Monterey ($3M) counties have chipped in funding. So, too, have health care organizations: Kaiser Permanente ($3M), the Central California Alliance for Health ($3M), Stanford Children’s Hospital ($1M), Blue Shield of California ($1M) and Dominican Hospital ($300,000) have all contributed. 

And the Pajaro Valley community—and the greater Santa Cruz County—has also pitched in. Driscoll’s berry company ($1.75M), Dobler & Sons ($100K), the hospital’s medical staff ($55K), the Chinese Community of Watsonville ($50K), Rowland and Pat Rebele ($50K) and the Simpkins family ($50K) have also made significant donations.

For information on the health care district and its effort to purchase Watsonville Community Hospital, visit PVHDP.org

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