A look into Southern Humboldt health care services besides the hospital

The Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District is continually working to ensure it has the funding and property to keep a hospital in Southern Humboldt County come 2030 but those efforts hit a speed bump in May when the community definitively voted against a funding plan through a parcel tax assessment.

While those efforts continue, the hospital is not the only health care outlet to Southern Humboldt County residents. Here’s a look at other health care services locally available.

The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services public health branch offers programs and services out of its Garberville clinic, Redwoods Rural Health Center in Redway offers medical, dental and other services and an Open Door Community Health Centers doctor offers primary care in Petrolia.

“We’re not a clinic, we don’t offer direct medical services,” DHHS health education specialist Beth Wells said.

Mostly preventative work is done out of the clinic on Cedar Street, she said.

“I work primarily in alcohol and other drug prevention,” Wells said.

The clinic also offers HIV case management and testing, hepatitis testing, flu information, communicable disease prevention, sexually transmitted disease prevention, tuberculosis related services and other services and programs, she said.

“I also work a lot in overdose prevention,” Wells said.

She said all these problems aren’t unique to Southern Humboldt County.

“It’s a countywide problem, but we’re really glad to be able to offer that kind of education and prevention,” Wells said.

DHHS also offers a field nursing program, she said.

“They do nursing case management assessment and referrals,” Wells said.

The nurses work with children, pregnant women and at-risk adults. When they need more acute care, they’re referred to the proper health care provider, Wells said.

“That’s a huge part of what we do — referrals,” she said.

Dr. Marika Ennis is primarily an emergency room physician at Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna but every two weeks offers primary care at a clinic in Petrolia, her town of residence.

“Open Door has opened up an outreach clinic out of their Ferndale site,” she said. “We have an actual clinic.”

Ennis said she usually sees about eight patients during her four-hours of clinic time in Petrolia.

“It’s been helpful for elderly patients and patients with limited transportation,” she said.

This is incredibly important for patients who don’t need to go to a hospital but aren’t able to make it to the Ferndale clinic, Ennis said.

“It definitely allows them to have more continued care,” she said. “ ... As opposed to letting their condition get worse and require an ER.”

Ennis said she would rather see a patient a few times in Petrolia instead of on a stretcher when she’s working in the ER.

A representative for Redwoods Rural Health Center wasn’t available for comment by the publishing deadline but according to its website it was established in the early 1970s.

“The purpose of Redwoods Rural Health Center is to provide responsive, preventive, high quality primary health care services, through a variety of healing disciplines, to all people without regard to social or economic status. We emphasize the client’s right and responsibility to participate in his or her own health care decisions. It is our hope that the clinic be a place where the needs of the whole person are met — body, mind, and spirit,” the center’s mission statement reads.

It offers medical and dental services as well as behavioral health, acupuncture and nutrition education services, according to the website.

Learn more at rrhc.org/forward, humboldtgov.org/192/Department-of-Health-Human-Services, opendoorhealth.com and shchd.org.

Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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