Our community stands at a pivotal juncture. Access to life-saving, local healthcare for tens of thousands of residents throughout the Pajaro Valley, Santa Cruz County and North Monterey County is on the March 5, 2024 ballot. 

Measure N is not just a bond; it is a lifeline for our community’s health and an investment in future generations. As we approach the March 5 election, we are faced with the opportunity to fortify and expand the capabilities of Watsonville Community Hospital, solidifying our dedication to a future where quality healthcare is a cornerstone of our local community and ensuring that our friends, families and neighbors have access to the care they deserve for decades to come. 

Watsonville Community Hospital is a 128-year-old medical institution that has saved countless lives and safely welcomed numerous members of our community into the world. Now, back under local, nonprofit ownership and directed by our trusted friends and neighbors in the Pajaro Valley Health Care District, Watsonville Community Hospital is on the path toward sustainability. 

Measure N is a proactive step toward fortifying Watsonville Community Hospital that supports the community’s long-held vision of building a thriving local healthcare provider whose influence on our community’s wellness extends far beyond the walls of the facility. Measure N would equip the hospital to meet the evolving needs of our growing and aging population. By voting yes on Measure N, we are safeguarding the very essence of our community, and committing to the health and well-being of every resident.

The $116 million raised from a Yes vote on Measure N would allow Watsonville Community Hospital to nearly double its emergency room capacity, jumping from 12 rooms to 22, and reduce wait times. It would also help upgrade outdated imaging systems including X-rays, MRI and CT scanners, and add new services so patients don’t have to travel to other hospitals to get the care they need. The time and money saved from no longer having to travel outside of our community to receive care will easily match the annual investment of $24 per $100,000 of assessed property value that Measure N proposes. 

Measure N would also fund the purchase of the Watsonville Community Hospital buildings and grounds, which would save $3 million per year in rent payments. Every penny of this bond—and the new revenues as a result of the upgrades and expansions—will be spent locally, ensuring that the funds directly benefit Watsonville Community Hospital and the children, parents, families and seniors it serves throughout Watsonville, Aptos, La Selva Beach, Corralitos, Pajaro, Las Lomas, Aromas and beyond. 

The alternative, a “No” vote, could move us toward a bleak future that has become a reality in communities throughout California. This includes Madera County, where residents are now facing the catastrophic consequences that can unfold when a community loses its local healthcare lifeline. 

More than 32,000 people visit Watsonville Community Hospital’s emergency room each year. Where would those people go if Watsonville Community Hospital closed? A “No” vote on Measure N could set in motion a chain of events leading to the erosion of our healthcare infrastructure throughout Santa Cruz County.

By voting “Yes” on Measure N, we affirm that the health of our community is a shared responsibility. It is a commitment we make not just to ourselves but to the collective well-being that defines us as a united front. In choosing unity over uncertainty, we declare that our community refuses to be a statistic in the nationwide trend of rural hospital closures. 

As we cast our votes, let us remember the extraordinary journey that brought us here and envision a future where Watsonville Community Hospital stands as a beacon of health, resilience and collective commitment. The power to shape that future lies in our hands, and by voting “Yes” on Measure N, we ensure that our commitment to a healthier, stronger and more vibrant community endures. 

Vote Yes on Measure N. 

Zach Friend is the Second District Supervisor for Santa Cruz County; Felipe Hernandez is the Fourth District Supervisor for Santa Cruz County; Luis Alejo is the First District Supervisor for Monterey County; Glenn Church is the Second District Supervisor and Chair of the Board for Monterey County; and Vanessa Quiroz-Carter is the mayor of Watsonville. Their opinions are their own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.

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  1. As I mentioned previously a yes vote adds more tax burden to all of us. Property owners as well as renters will pay more to live in the area. Those of us that pay exorbitant private healthcare costs will experience double jeopardy by paying twice. First for our insurance and secondly through our property tax. Let’s remember Watsonville hospital is NOT a trauma center.
    It’s a glorified clinic at best which is terribly understaffed and constantly in debt.
    I say downsize it to a clinic and refer the serious cases to Natividad or Dominican. Let’s be realistic it’s just a bandaid on a bad situation. The building is old and out of date time to cut the ties and start fresh. Our population is decreasing time to “right size” care in Watsonville.
    Taxpayers are done with being pickpocketed at every turn already.

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    • Nobody likes taxes, but when they serve a visible and obvious LOCAL effect, at least you get a direct benefit. You mention having to pay private healthcare insurance and this new tax causing extra costs. Based on the average home price in Watsonville, this would cause an additional $162 tax per household, which works out to $13.50 monthly. You propose to downsize services to a clinic environment. Many problems exist with that idea. For example, many people in the area are Kaiser patients. WCH is the only Kaiser affiliate in the area. If WCH were to close or reduce services as you propose, Kaiser would drop all of those people from their plans since there would be no hospital to support their patients. You call WCH a glorified clinic, but I don’t think you understand the actual services and specialties available, many of which have been added or expanded very recently since the creation of the health district. Additionally, many local clinics and primary offices refer patients to the ER for additional care at WCH. You also bring up that the population is in decline. While the population of Watsonville has declined by 1% this year(hardly an exodus), the population is aging and will need additional and escalating care. If WCH were to become a clinic as you propose, over 30k ER visits per year would be diverted to Dominican. This would create an utter collapse of services at Dominican, as they could not handle that tidal wave of patients. While WCH is not a trauma center, this designation is not the “end all-be all” designation for hospitals. Many traumatic injuries can and are cared for daily at WCH. I would urge you to educate yourself about all the issues before denigrating one of the rare local hospitals that are making changes and improving. Pickpockets take your money and disappear, this bond/tax measure will keep your money in your community and ensure local medical care when you need it.

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    • I will vote No on a new tax increase for the hospital and PVUSD if they put their 300million tax request on the ballot. When I went to hospital last week, I had to wait over 3 hours in excruciating pain and dangerous high stroke level BP and the triage nurse forgot about me. SUCH A LACK OF CARE means any money thrown at the hospital won’t improve service. My personal doctor at Sutter was so upset and concerned after I called him that he got me in before any other patients next day. Shame on Watsonville Hospital and ER employees. You almost killed me .

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      • PA
        The status quo will continue at WCH even after measure passes which I am urging all of my tenants to vote no on. If approved I must pass these costs on to them with the usual processing fees. I believe it’s a non rent control item in the city and county that can be a pass through.
        Tenants in mobile home parks will see an automatic fee increase, will the farmers pay this fee based on farmland owned? I see too many grey areas in this system. How about an additional corporate tax sufficient to cover this shortfall? We have many businesses in the area who can easily cover this bond issue.
        With the cost of living in Watsonville and reduction in city and county services I am concerned and wondering if there could be a better more creative to spread these costs more evenly across the area served. Did the committee explore all other options?.

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  2. Vote YES on N. When my wife fell snd broke her hip a couple of years ago, paramedics took her to Watsonville Hospital, where she received an expert surgical repair. I would not have wanted her to go to a hospital farther away. A NO vote will cause further deterioration of local healthcare. Don’t think selfishly about taxes. They are are our shared support for local services. Remember, you may need that hospital some day. You get what you pay for.

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  3. It is my wish that the Pajaronian had a larger audience, then this message would be hopefully read by more of the residents of Watsonville. I know that the former organization that ran Watsonville Hospital took a complete community hospital and ” acted like they had stolen a car and began selling off the parts”. Don’t place the blame for the ” sins of the father” on the newly organized Not for Profit Community Hospital. A ” YES on Measure N” would be a HUGE step in the right direction to its proper place in the health community of Watsonville and Santa Cruz County. We need to put this message on television for a wider audience.

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  4. There is no reason to not support a hospital in our Community of Watsonville. Keeping it simple, better to have the hospital close to home , rather than having to travel.

    If we are asked to pay a little more in taxes, this beats so many other ways that we have to pay taxes. Our health and community come first. I want the best possible community hospital we can have in Watsonville for the people of our community.

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  5. Vote NO. Where are our tax $’s going now? At some point those responsible need to be held accountable.

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  6. Vote NO on measure N!
    Hundreds of miilions in new property taxes won’t insure a viabile hospital.
    Watsonville Hospital has always been managed poorly, and gone into bankruptcy again and again.
    Now they want homeowners to continually bail them out, with no assurance anything is going to change,
    except that homeowners will be continually on the hook for shelling out more and more $$$ to keep a poorly run business afloat.
    More reasons that the American dream of owning your own home is becoming harder and harder.
    Higher rents, etc…
    NO on “N”!!!

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