Dr. Peter Nash, who has been working part-time at the Southern Humboldt Community Clinic for the past seven years, told the Redwood Times that he believes staff morale at the clinic is on the upswing in spite of the resignation of medical director Mark Phelps and clinic nurse manager Brook Phelps.
”Morale at the clinic was low for a while but since the clinic’s medical staff all met with [administrator] Harry Jasper, things are much better,” Dr. Nash said. “I can’t speak for the hospital and emergency room staff, but at the clinic there’s less anger in the air and things are already better than they were two weeks ago.”
Dr. Phelps will continue to supervise the clinic medical staff at least until mid-October, after which he and Brook Phelps will be moving to Medford, Oregon, where Dr. Phelps recently accepted a position.
”Mark is a wonderful, extraordinary doctor. I will miss him, as will his patients,” said Dr. Nash.
An experienced physician assistant has already started working at the clinic last week, filling in until a new “advanced practitioner” (physician assistant or family nurse practitioner) is hired to permanently take the position vacated by PA Larry Smith. Smith also resigned from the clinic staff in July.
Several qualified candidates for Smith’s position were recently interviewed and the Southern Humboldt Healthcare District is close to signing on a new practitioner, Nash added.
In the meantime, the district is actively recruiting for two new MD’s, one to become medical director and another to work full-time in both the clinic and the ER.
Dr. Nash, describing himself as a “full-time pinch-hitter,” has been seeing patients in Garberville one day a week, filling in on other days as needed, and he also fills in occasionally at Redwoods Rural Health Center.
His wife Judy Nash, a family nurse practitioner, works at the Southern Humboldt Community Clinic one day a week and at RRHC one day a week. Because of medical staff shortages she is currently working extra hours in Garberville “until the stars align.”
The Nashes moved from Santa Cruz to Petrolia ten years ago but they had been coming frequently to Southern Humboldt for the previous 30 years. Dr. Nash, as well as Dr. Dick Scheinman, also see patients in Petrolia. “We’re always on call for people in Petrolia,” he noted.
Dr. Nash, a family practitioner, ran his own clinic in Santa Cruz with another doctor as well as a staff that included several PA’s and FNP’s for 20 years. Before that he worked for the Santa Cruz Health Services Agency for ten years.
”I’ve always been in community medicine,” he said. “I wouldn’t do anything else – I couldn’t do anything else.”
Regarding the controversy surrounding the Phelpses’ resignations, Nash observed, “It’s not a question of Harry Jasper versus the Phelpses. People are so disappointed that Mark and Brook are leaving – there’s anger and dismay. But when everyone understands that they want to start a new adventure, we will go on.”