In order to form a healthcare district and acquire Watsonville Community Hospital, urgency legislation — Senate Bill 418 — was brought forward by State Senator Laird and coauthored by California State Assembly members Robert Rivas, Mark Stone, and Senator Anna Caballero. The bill was passed unanimously by the Assembly and Senate, and on Friday, February 4, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the legislation into law.
The District itself was created by the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District Project , a collaboration between the County of Santa Cruz, the City of Watsonville, Salud Para La Gente and the Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley. Working together, these entities saved Watsonville Community Hospital from bankruptcy and established public oversight of the hospital through the Pajaro Valley Health Care District.
The District’s borders run from the Aptos area on the west to the town of Pajaro in the east, spanning two counties and serving a diverse population of residents from all walks of life. While the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors made initial appointments to the PVHCD Board, future Boards will be subject to public elections.
The PVHCD Board recognizes that health outcomes are directly impacted by social determinants of health such as race and ethnicity, living conditions, occupation, documentation status, zip code and income. Watsonville Community Hospital serves many areas where these factors, if unaddressed, can lead to poor health care outcomes. A balanced healthcare infrastructure in Santa Cruz County, including the long-term viability of WCH, is essential to addressing these disparities.