Senator John Laird, Assemblymember Robert Rivas Secure $25 Million for Watsonville Community Hospital Purchase

June 30, 2022

Contact: Richard Stapler – 916 549 9630

SACRAMENTO – As the State Assembly and Senate are poised to finalize the 2022-23 state budget, State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) announced they have secured $25 million to help finalize the purchase of Watsonville Community Hospital for the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District.

“This historic investment by the State of California for healthcare access in the Watsonville region will pay significant dividends to the region for decades to come,” said Senator Laird. “In a year’s time, we have created a healthcare district, moved the hospital through bankruptcy proceedings, and now we are on the precipice of finalizing the purchase. This effort saves primary health care access for tens of thousands of Pajaro Valley residents - and saves the hundreds of jobs that are now meeting that need.”

“Having a hospital nearby can be the difference between life and death,” said Assemblymember Robert Rivas. “It is critical that every resident, regardless of where in the state they live, has access to comprehensive health services including important preventative and emergency care. The $25 million from the State of California will help ensure that this hospital continues to serve the Watsonville area for years to come.”

Earlier this year, SB 418 (Laird, Chapter 1, Statutes of 2022) was passed with urgency by the full legislature in under three weeks and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom to create the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District. In conjunction with the passage of this legislation, the leaders of the district have been engaged in a fundraising campaign to complete the purchase of Watsonville Hospital. Corporate and philanthropic efforts have been contributed that will greatly benefit the community for generations to come. The $25 million in state funding reflects a $10 million request from Assemblymember Rivas and a $15 million request from Senator Laird in the state budget process. The total purchase price for the facility is $61.7 million.

Senator Laird continues, “It is important to know that this deal is not yet final – we still must raise several million dollars more from the community. I will be deeply committed in the coming months to ensure we reach that goal and maintain this vital health facility for the people of Watsonville.”

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Senator John Laird represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, the majority of Monterey County, as well as parts of Santa Clara County. He previously served as the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board, a member of the State Assembly, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Aids Project, and two terms as Santa Cruz Mayor. His lifetime of public service and social justice advocacy saw him become one of the first openly gay mayors to serve in the United States. Senator Laird has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz with his spouse John Flores.