PV Health Trust to purchase Watsonville Community Hospital

The Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust announced plans to purchase Watsonville Community Hospital late Thursday. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust announced Thursday that it will purchase Watsonville Community Hospital (WCH) from current owner, Quorum Health. 

The Health Trust now has 45 days to put down a $4.5 million 10 percent down payment, 180 days for an additional 5 percent and 270 days to finalize the $45.5 million sale.

Los Angeles-based Halsen Healthcare was also aiming to buy the hospital, a proposal that raised concern from some fearful of continued corporate ownership.

That corporation, formed solely to purchase WCH, was planning to sell the building and property to a real estate investment corporation for a profit, and then lease it back from them.

Halsen CEO Dan Brothman declined to comment for this story.

While Halsen announced its intention to purchase the hospital earlier this year, PVCHT has the right of first refusal to match any new offers to purchase the hospital under a purchase agreement approved in 1998.

According to PVCHT CEO DeAndre James, upcoming negotiations will require an “extensive period” while the Health Trust researches the current state of hospital operations and financials.

It is not yet clear how the Health Trust will pay for the hospital. James said those details will be released as the sale closes.

In a community forum on July 14, James said the organization is “a $17 million asset organization.”

Still, the purchase will restore the hospital to community, non-profit status, James said.

“Our primary focus in this process has been to ensure that our community will have access to high-quality health care services,” he said.

The PVCHT Board of Directors met Wednesday night to decide whether to make the purchase and made the announcement late Thursday afternoon.

PVCHT board member Trina Coffman-Gomez said that she hopes the move will help return departments and services such as oncology, cardiac catheterization and outpatient surgery that were cut over the past 20 years by former owners Community Health Systems and then Quorum Health.

“We know we have a tremendous gap,” she said.

Coffman-Gomez said the decision was made after hearing from community members who wanted to see the hospital return to its locally controlled, community-based roots.

“The community has spoken loud and clear,” she said. “We have explored everything we can possibly do. We are taking the concerns of the community seriously.”

Salud Para la Gente CEO Dori Rose Inda said she was “thrilled” with the announcement.

“I think it’s an absolutely incredible opportunity for our community, for the future of its health and well-being,” she said.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District Trustee Kim DeSerpa, who also works in the medical community, said that having quality health care is vital in South County, which has a large population of low-income residents. 

“Anything that brings improvements for the community I’m behind,” she said. “I wish PV Health Trust and the medical community all the best because the hardworking people of the Pajaro Valley deserve the best care possible.”

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