MCDH will close Labor and Delivery

Those who have followed Mendocino Coast District Hospital Healthcare District and committee meetings on Mendocino TV may have noticed that we have not been broadcasting these meetings recently. We have been fully occupied moving out of our studio in the Union Lumber Company Store.

After years of journalistic coverage of the hospital as a news outlet without any recompense by them, we have decided to be more strategic in our broadcasting. Each meeting takes an average of 8 to 16 hours of work, for no pay. Several community members have donated to us to express their appreciation for our coverage. Thank you!

Posted by Ted Williams on Friday, January 3, 2020
Thanks to Ted Williams

We decided to attend but not broadcast the meeting in Town Hall this past Friday, since it was held in a facility that has it’s own broadcast facilities, assuming the City of Fort Bragg’s Government Access Station would broadcast the meeting. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, so there is no permanent record of that public forum available to the public.

What I observed was anything but a forum. More like another version of verbal abuse prompted by the arrogant attitude the hospital staff has held toward the public since we started covering the hospital meetings.

Dr. Robin Serrahn, head of ER opened the forum with a power point slide show, flashing statistics that appeared to bolster his often repeated refrain that, “Labor and Delivery will be closing!” There was no misunderstanding his comments that this ,”WILL HAPPEN!” His presentation regarding L&D reaffirmed our decision to not broadcast the dog and pony show being rolled out, since it was anything but a forum. While there were people writing down the public’s comments and possible solutions, it became obvious that the decision has already been made. One can only assume that the public needs and desires are secondary to the many private issues that the hospital caters to.

Even though Adventists Health Care would have been obligated to continue these services when the affiliation takes place for 2 more years, with the finances to support Labor and Delivery and spoke of their commitment to this, they were given an easy out when Steve Lund added a qualifier to the decision, saying, “Unless we both agree to discontinue it.” It seems as if unseen forces behind the Board of Directors has made these decisions, totally disregarding the public’s desire and turning the measure C campaign into a complete falsehood, when they used the public’s desire to save L&D and passed a tax that will encumber the district property owners for 20 years. This dishonesty to the public electorate is reprehensible at the least and should be legally challenged. I’m sure there are many voters that now regret their yes vote. If the public knew that we would be where we are now, it’s highly unlikely the property tax would have passed.

The constant attack on Labor & Delivery at MCDH for almost 5 years, no matter who is on the board leaves the question, “Who is behind this universal rejection of all ideas to save L&D?” I suspect there are doctors who are protecting their revenue streams at the expense of the public’s needs and desires. A steady stream of false facts keep arising in the discussion. One of the most pervasive is that Medi-Cal is the low payer that doesn’t cover costs, thereby blaming the poorer residents of the district for being a burden to the system, thus making it untenable to sustain L&D. It seems as if many private insurers have contracts allowing them to pay only 50% of costs. This completely blows a hole in the arguments that, “If we had insured residents giving birth here, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” It’s racist and class warfare towards poor residents. Mendocino Coast Clinics subsidizes a large part of the expense, yet that never seems to get acknowledged in the discussion with the public. Why is that?

With a nationally recognized surgical center in Willits, where almost all of the procedures are planned in advance, why is Orthopedics never on the line for shutting down. Why does the hospital fund a physical therapy unit when there are other physical therapists in the community? Does North Coast Clinics make money, and if not, how much do they lose?

How long can this abuse continue?

  • It is traumatizing the young adults of this community, who are afraid to get pregnant while living on the Coast.
  • It is seriously jeopardizing future economic development. Businesses cannot recruit young adults that want to live and raise a family in the community they live in.
  • Doctors are reluctant to work here when they see the level of dysfunction exhibited by the Board of Directors, where decisions are made willy-nilly, with no consideration of the community’s needs and desires.
  • What is the real costs going to be to deliver a child in ER compared to some of the creative solutions brought to the table.
  • What strain will this put on the ambulance district already strained to the max and what expansion will be needed and at what cost to drive mothers and fathers that don’t have reliable transportation over the hill and what happens when the roads are closed and the helicopters can’t land?

While a final vote on closing Labor & Delivery at Mendocino Coast District Hospital has not been taken and is not currently on the MCDH Board of Trustees agenda, it could be added with very short notice! To get agendas and MCDH information, you can email and request to be on the mailing list.

I am so angry when I see my property tax bill from 2019 knowing I’m paying for a big, baldfaced LIE, given to the district taxpayers by the hospital’s Board of Directors. Mendocino TV cannot continue to be an engine of propaganda for the hospital district, which has become how they view us, as tools to disseminate their propaganda, while making decisions behind the scenes, in complete disregard to the public’s wishes.

If they can’t fund the critical services the community wants, it begs the question, “Why are we affiliating with Adventists Health Care?


  1. Despite the misleading headline, Dr. Robin Serrahn, Chief of the hospital Medical Staff and Director of the Emergency Department does not have the authority to make the decision to close the Labor and Delivery (Obstetrics) Department. While this type of a headline might be good for it’s “clickbait” value, it does not meet the minimum standards accuracy for professional journalism.

    1. I was mystified also when Dr Sarrahn kept speaking with an unequivocal manner, as if had been decided. It’s unfortunate that he never used the term “may get closed,” throughout his whole presentation. So, even though I agree that the headline is misleading. The hospital should vet the presentation for accuracy when a representative of them makes statements of that type, because, that was his exact message to the audience in attendance.

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