EUREKA, Calif. — The Wharfinger Building in Eureka was packed Monday night for the Health Care Town Hall, held by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The event was meant to shine a light on the lack of health care services and caregivers throughout Humboldt County.
"We need to do as much as we possibly need to and the best way to do that is to listen to caregivers," James Ladika, a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka said. "Humboldt County can be a very bright light and we can make this a sort of laboratory of patient care."
Dr. Donald Baird, the Humboldt County public health officer says health care staff shortages exist everywhere, not just in Humboldt.
"How many of you are having trouble finding a physician in this county?" Baird asked. The question received a room full of laughs. "All of these critical carriers in the hospital are in short supply across the nation."
"It's very unfortunate that someone has so much power in our community and refuses to place any value on bedside caregivers," Ladika said of St. Joseph Health.
In response to the Town Hall, St. Joseph Hospital responded with the following statement:
"This meeting was created by and for the NUHW and CNA unions. It was scheduled and announced without any prior consultation with us or any health care organization, including Mad River Hospital, Open Door Community Health Centers and Hospice of Humboldt, to collaboratively and in good faith develop meaningful content or structure.
Based on the meeting agenda and proposed questions published by the NUHW and CNA, it is clear the intent of the meeting was to advance an agenda unrelated to healthcare in our community. Consistent with the National Labor Relations Act, we believe the most appropriate forum for discussions with labor unions representing our caregivers is the bargaining table.
We take our responsibility as leaders in health care seriously and remain committed to making Humboldt County a strong and vibrant center for health and well-being. We look forward to holding and attending town hall forums with other health care leaders where we can work in solidarity with and service to the people of Humboldt County.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers have told North Coast News that they invited Roberta Luskin-Hawk, the Chief Executive Director for St. Joseph Hospital to speak.