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Changes at St. Joseph's

The public needs to know that St. Joseph's of Greater Sonoma County Healthcare System no longer has the patient's ultimate safety and welfare in mind when their planned firing and elimination of ancillary staff goes into effect at Petaluma Valley Hospital on April 8.

St. Joseph's has repeatedly refused to find financial means to insure that the staff that serves you, the patient, at the bedside—aside from the RNs who treat you—will continue to be there for you next month.

St. Joseph's knew very well last year that Medi-Cal and insurance reimbursements were causing financial shortages at Petaluma Valley, and yet refused to go public immediately until after the proposed cuts were put into place in January 2009.

St. Joseph's failed in their responsibility to notify the community of Petaluma and the residents of Sonoma County, as well as the Petaluma Health Care District, which is ultimately in charge of securing the best healthcare available for the city of Petaluma, about the proposed changes.

The hospital has planned to lay off Certified Nursing Assistants, housekeeping, transport personnel, and others so they don't have to pay for their healthcare costs or their salaries. How crass can you get? The last time restructuring took place in 1998 at PVH, patient-care satisfaction plummeted while patient and worker injuries skyrocketed.

Can you imagine how long you will have to wait for someone to help you to the bathroom or to get you pain medicine or to clean you up after an accident? Not giving you the complete care you have received in the past and deserve in the future is antithetical to the ideals St. Joseph's touts. So much for "Dignity and Stewardship"!

It is very disappointing to see St. Joseph cut these direct caregiver hours when we know that they understand the consequences and understand the direct impact those losses have on RNs and on our ability to provide safe, quality patient care. 

However, PVH RNs are determined to do everything necessary to keep our patients safe, even if it kills them. But we need the public's help!

Please call and write immediately, expressing your concerns and disappointments about the layoffs and how this will ultimately affect overall patient care, safety, wellness, cleanliness and staff morale.

Those letters and phone calls should be made not only to Petaluma Valley Hospital, but to Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, and to the Petaluma Health Care District. Please let them know that the layoffs are not acceptable.

Petaluma Valley Hospital employee for 18-plus years

Forest for the trees

With Earth Day coming up, it is a good thing that the United Nations has set a goal to plant 7 billion trees by the end of this year. That's just over one tree per person on the planet.

But lest we not forget, over 1 million acres in the Sierra Nevada forest are scheduled to be clear-cut by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), California's largest private forest landowners.

In a clear-cut, all of the vegetation is removed. Intensive amounts of herbicides are applied to wipe out whatever manages to survive. Then the area is saturated with chemical fertilizers and planted with rows of evenly spaced, same-age, same species pine trees—becoming monoculture tree farms that contain 90 percent fewer species than a natural forest.

These tree plantations are more susceptible to wildfires and outbreaks of insects and disease. Old-growth forests, which have evolved over thousands of years, are resistant to pathogens.

Clear-cutting is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, second only to the burning of fossil fuels.


Our taxpayer dollars are helping to fund clear-cutting. Write your representatives in Congress and demand an end to this harmful practice.

An alternative to clear-cutting and tree farms is selective harvesting, where only trees used for lumber production are removed. Selective harvesting, when properly managed, preserves forest ecosystems and protects wildlife, does not degrade our water supply (60 percent of California's water supply comes from the Sierra Nevada) and can produce timber forever.

Justine Ashton
Glen Ellen

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