Council Connect Articles

CHA and Hospital Council Visit Humboldt County Hospitals


  • Mad River Community Hospital leaders
  • Providence-St. Joseph’s Eureka hospital leaders
  • Southern Humboldt Healthcare District hospital leaders
  • Sutter Coast hospital leaders


In late September, a group of CHA policy leaders and Hospital Council regional vice presidents traveled to Humboldt County for a section meeting at the historic Ingomar Club and site visits with Southern Humboldt Health and Mad River Community Hospital (see photos below). The Redwood Coast Section meeting kicked off with thanks and recognition to outgoing Chair Mitch Hanna for his longstanding leadership and vision. It is hard to contemplate the Redwood Coast section absent Mitch’s steady presence and dry humor, so the group resolved to ignore his career plans to maintain his company. Mitch is a strong leader with wide respect throughout the California health care community and we are grateful for his guidance of the Redwood Coast Section.   

With CHA’s Ben Johnson, Ben McGowan, and Justise Wattree on hand to discuss minimum wage, the managed care organization tax, and all things finance, the discussion lasted into the night. The group was glad to welcome Providence-St. Joseph CMO and interim CEO Ranjit Hundal, MD. For one evening, the Redwood Coast Section gathered a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, and a CPA; rather than being the sendup of an old joke, the team made for thought-provoking and engaging discussion. While leaders remained concerned about the multitude of financial pressures faced by California’s rural hospitals and health care providers, they left the meeting with new knowledge and assurance that CHA has their best interest top of mind.   

The following morning found the assembled CHA and Hospital Council team winding southbound on Highway 101 to Garberville for a visit with CEO Matt Rees at Southern Humboldt Health (SoHum). Garberville’s economy has been hard hit by the legalization of marijuana and vacant storefronts outnumber populated ones on the town’s main drag. True to their mission of provision of high-quality medical services and community engagement, Matt and his team have purchased several storefronts with plans to turn them into needed community health services, such as dentistry and optometry. Two years after SoHum brought the only commercial pharmacy to town and revitalized a long-dormant business property, their community investment and development is appreciated by locals who know they can access care close to home.  

Returning north to Arcata, the team spent the afternoon touring the grounds of Mad River Community Hospital (MRCH). While MRCH leadership negotiates its sale to Southwest Healthcare Services, the care team remains committed to providing top-notch service to the Arcata community and beyond. Two unique aspects of MRCH include its expansive, organic hospital farm, which provides roughly 85% of their patient and cafeteria meals, and its planned crisis triage center for which MRCH was awarded a significant Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Project grant this spring.   

The crisis triage center will be built in partnership with Providence St. Joseph’s in Eureka, Humboldt County Department of Health Services, Cal Poly Humboldt State, Waterfront Recovery Services, and other community partners. Inspired by recovery centers across the country and Be Well Orange County, the site will hold seven different licenses to maximize much-needed behavioral health care provision for community members.    Assured in the stability of its single-story wood frame building, MRCH continues to work closely with CHA and elected leadership to advocate for flexibility in upcoming seismic building standards so that its limited capital funds can go toward projects like the crisis triage center, which will have an immediate and impactful community health benefit.

For anyone who has had the good fortune to work with Mitch Hanna, please take a moment to thank him for his service to the Redwood Coast Section. CHA and Hospital Council are grateful to our member hospitals in Humboldt County for their gracious hospitality and look forward to providing continued support for all of their initiatives.

Takeaway/Next Steps

If you’ve had the good fortune to work with Mitch Hanna in your career, please take a moment to thank him for his service to the Redwood Coast section. CHA and HCNCC are grateful to our member hospitals in Humboldt County for their gracious hosting and look forward to providing continued support for all of their initiatives.


RVP Meghan Hardin