Friday not long past 1 p.m. things were hoppin' at the North Coast Resource Center in Arcata. Outside, a gang of gulls and ravens hopped up and down, screeching and scrapping for bread chunked at them by a man on the sidewalk. Another guy waved an empty plastic bottle at a big spotted dog, who leaped for it; when his teeth clamped onto the bottle, they played crackly tug-o-war. Several others hanging about joked and laughed and smoked, and people regularly entering the building left arms laden with huge boxes of food: milk, macaroni, tuna, Hamburger Helper, tofu, oranges, zucchini and other goods donated by various markets around town.
Inside, everything seemed busy as usual -- it would be hard for someone who didn't know better to guess that this was the last day of operation for the NCRC until it finds more funding (which could be a month or longer). Almost all of the chairs set up in the front waiting room were full. Volunteer Mike Wynn helped a young woman fill out paperwork to get assistance. Board president Derk Schulze was in a back office doing paperwork. John Shelter, recently deposed NCRC executive director who volunteered his time the past 18 months here, was just getting back from an errand. Somebody had just dropped off a $500 donation -- OK, that was an unusual event. Volunteer Donald LaPointe cleaned up the lunch mess in the kitchen. Several folks sorted produce, picking out the rotten stuff. Volunteer Lisa Rozelle rapidly and genially filled clients' food boxes; one client, Michele, said usually she's on the donating end of things here, but today, because she'd been laid off from her job, she was on the receiving end.
That's the way the NCRC functions. If you want food, or other assistance that the NCRC provides, you've got to do something: clean, cook, organize book shelves, sort fruit and vegetables, fill boxes, and more. Rozelle said she and her husband, when they found themselves homeless, came immediately to the NCRC. "We loved the idea that John [Shelter] allowed us to work for our food," she said. "Because I grew up in a house where, 'No work, no food.'"
Where will everyone go tomorrow? Some don't know yet; they're still grieving. Some say they'll wait ands see if the NCRC opens up again. Some will find work or volunteer gigs elsewhere. Some are going with Shelter to help him turn his New Directions program into an independent organization -- using homeless work crews to engage directly with homeless people in their camps, teach them to clean up after themselves, and ultimately help them become housed, employed and self-sufficient.
That's the plan, anyway. We'll have more news on Shelter's new direction, and hopefully an update on the NCRC's fate, in an upcoming issue of the Journal.
He brought us atheists! He brought us breakdancing and hip hop! He brought us a mass demonstration of audience fainting spells! Wait, that last one was a hoax delivered unto him by an apparent quality control artist.
But anyway, yes -- we're talking Phil Donahue, baby! And now -- toot-da-do! -- anti-war activist, Emmy winner galore, and world's-most-famous-talk-show-host-until-Oprah-came-along-to-steal-his-weepy-gentle-audience Donahue is bringing us Norman Solomon!
That's right, folks, Donahue, as a news release says, "will be on a barnstorm tour across the North Coast alongside Solomon, the independent progressive Democrat in the race for the open seat in the new 2nd Congressional District."
Here's the sched for Humboldt:
Wednesday, Jan. 11:
Noon -- Donahue and Solomon reception (till 1:30 p.m.); Persimmons Garden Gallery, 1055 Redway Dr., Redway.
5:45 p.m. -- "Body of War" screening, followed by on-stage conversation between Donahue and Solomon; Eureka Theater, 612 F St., Eureka.
The two men go back: Both worked on war films. Donahue's was "Body of War" and Solomon's was "War Made Easy."
Now, who's Oprah stumping for?
UPDATE, Dec. 29: Surgeons at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka did not leave two different objects inside two different patients after surgeries this summer, the state Public Health Department said Thursday. That only happened once.
Two episodes involving "retained foreign objects" show up on the state website because St. Joseph doctors reported them, as required by law, but one involved a blunder by a different hospital, Matt Conens of the department's public affairs office said in an email.
In that one, St. Joseph surgeons removed two sponges from a patient who had complained of pain after a previous surgery at a different hospital, Conens said.
When asked about the two reports last week, the state had declined to provide details. St. Joseph also declined to offer any details in time for the Journal's deadline. It later said that something on the state's website was wrong, but it declined to specify what.
The state offered more information after St. Joseph asked it to correct its web descriptions, Conens said.
Somewhere on the vast state website that details the track records of California hospitals, something about St. Joseph Hospital is wrong, the hospital's spokeswoman has suggested.
In an email sent to the Journal after deadline on Tuesday, Leslie Broomall wrote, "When CDPH updates its website, we're confident the information related to St. Joseph Hospital will be corrected."
She declined to say Tuesday specifically what the hospital believes is incorrect. On Wednesday, asked again to elaborate, she did not return messages left on her office and mobile phone lines. She later said via email she hopes to get back to the Journal "shortly."
The California Department of Public Health was unable to immediately locate any request from St. Joseph to fix a web error, a public health spokesman said Wednesday, but it is still looking.
The website of the state Public Health Department lists more than 250 complaints, self-reported incidents and survey deficiencies involving St. Joseph Hospital dating back to 2004. Some are duplicates, clearly marked with the same identification number, but still show up twice.
The various reports range from public complaints that the state has concluded are unsubstantiated to hospital reports of deaths during or soon after surgery, which must be disclosed to the state even when no one suspects anything inappropriate happened.
The state website lists fines, including a $700 penalty assessed against St. Joseph last year for failing to report that one of its patients developed an ulcer while being cared for at the hospital in 2009. And the site provides a gateway to other reports in which the state has found St. Joseph or Redwood Memorial deficient, sometimes putting patients at risk of serious injury or death.
The public health website and other reports the state provides can be cryptic, as they were regarding two separate reports of "foreign objects" left in patients' bodies at St. Joseph over the summer. The episodes were reported about 2½ weeks apart, had different ID numbers in the state system, and prompted different state responses. So far neither the state nor St. Joseph has been willing to clarify whether they refer to two incidents or one.
That was one of several questions that Broomall declined to answer for a Journal article, "Operator Error."
Among the other questions she declined to answer:
Were any of the same surgeons involved in more than one of the irregularities outlined in the Journal article?
Have the hospitals changed their relationships with any of the surgeons involved in any of episodes?
That's right, folks. Just in time for Christmas, Humboldt County now has a back-up umbilical for all of our technology babies, including credit and debit card machines and Internet-based communications, which have become virtually indispensable for everything from medical care to law enforcement, education and business. Plus, high-speed Internet will now be available in such rural communities as Bridgeville, Mad River and Wildwood.
Read the press release from IP Networks below:
It was announced today that IP Networks has completed the installation of 131 miles of high-speed internet fiber through Humboldt and Trinity County along the Highway 36 corridor. The project provides long-needed redundant broadband fiber for much of Humboldt County, while also enabling service to a number of previously un-served and under-served communities in Eastern Humboldt and Southern Trinity counties.
"This has been a top-priority project for our two counties" said Mark Lovelace, Chair of both the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Redwood Region Economic Development Corporation (RREDC). "Reliable, redundant broadband is critical to economic and community development here on the Redwood Coast."
Judy Morris, Chair of the Trinity County Board of Supervisors, said "The lack of broadband service has put our remote, rural communities at a severe economic disadvantage. This project provides essential communications infrastructure for some of these remote, rural areas."
IP Networks worked with Pacific Gas and Electric Company to install fiber-optic cable on PG&E's poles and towers. The route follows PG&E's existing right-of-way from the Cottonwood sub-station near Redding, through both the Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, to Eureka and the Humboldt Bay area.
"PG&E feels very fortunate to be a partner on a project with such far reaching benefits for the community" said Brandi Ehlers of PG&E. "It took a strong team to complete this crucial piece of the line and we're very pleased it's done."
With the fiber-optic cable installed, local internet service providers including Suddenlink will now be able to provide their customers with the security and reliability of a redundant broadband connection to protect against outages and interruptions.
"Last-mile" service to residents and businesses along the route will be provided by 101 Netlink, a North Coast wireless high speed internet provider. 101 Netlink will now be able to connect several un-served and under-served communities along the way including Wildwood, Mad River, Ruth and Bridgeville, offering service to 527 rural households over a 218 square-mile area with speeds up to 4Mbps download and 1.5Mbps upload.
101 Netlink's Seth Johannesen said "We're pleased to be able to offer true high-speed service to some of the most rural communities in Humboldt and Trinity counties."
Mary-Lou Smulders, Vice President of Strategies and Implementation for IP Networks, thanked the many partners that helped make the project happen. "We couldn't have done this without strong support from all of our fabulous partners in Humboldt and Trinity counties. The counties, PG&E, 101 Netlink, RREDC, the California Center for Rural Policy, Redwood Coast Connect, our customers and vendors and so many others have been there every step of the way to help with project design, planning, funding, permits and implementation."
Connie Stewart, Executive Director of the California Center for Rural Policy, said "The Redwood Coast region is sparsely populated and has lots of rugged terrain, which makes installing fiber optics challenging and expensive. There are more rural communities out there that still need high speed internet and we all look forward to getting them served too."
Significant internet disruptions in December 2006 and January 2007 carried serious impacts to businesses, retailers and education, as well as potentially life-threatening impacts to healthcare, law enforcement and aviation. Those outages focused attention on the need for broadband redundancy and prompted a series of studies and route concepts.
Gregg Foster, Executive Director of RREDC, thanked the many partners who worked early on to move this issue forward, including Tina Nerat, Susan Estrada, Patrick Cleary and the Redwood Technology Consortium. "This has been a team effort from the start, and couldn't have been done without the support of so many dedicated individuals over so many years" he said.
The total cost for the project is $14,383,101, of which $5,753,240 was provided by the California Advance Services Fund (CASF) as a 40% match.
Starting on Jan. 1, many indigent county residents can apply for a program that will cover their primary health care, emergency and hospital care, pharmacy services, and limited dental and vision care at no cost. It will also cover a set number of mental health and substance abuse counseling visits, among other services.
Path2Health, as the program is called, will cover this care for residents who live at or below the federal poverty level -- roughly $10,890 per year for an individual -- in Humboldt and 33 other California counties. A few other requirements: To qualify you must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 19 and 64 who does not qualify for Medi-Cal. Lots more info can be found on the program website.
Path2Health, which has been described as a pilot program for federal health care reform, will be administered through the County Medical Services Program (CMSP) Governing Board. That agency announced yesterday that it had been notified of federal approval.
"Path2Health will provide many low income adults in these counties with needed health coverage," CMSP Governing Board Executive Director Lee Kemper said in a press release. "Others will benefit in 2014 when the federal Medicaid program is expanded by federal reform."
You can see a full list of what's covered through the program here. Local residents will need to submit an application at the county's social services department, located at 929 Koster Street in Eureka. (Phone number: 269-3590.)
UPDATE, DEC. 21: After initially making an 11:30 a.m. appointment to speak with the Journal on Wednesday, St. Joseph Hospital canceled. Spokeswoman Leslie Broomall said the hospital had decided it wanted written questions instead. We politely declined. Broomall later did email an unsigned media statement saying that St. Joseph Hospital takes the error "very seriously" and had reported it to the state immediately. (The state requires such reporting.)
A surgeon left a blue vinyl device more than 10 inches long inside a patient during hernia surgery over the summer at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The blunder increased the odds of the patient developing other medical problems or even dying, and it forced doctors to do a second surgery, according to a state deficiency finding released to the North Coast Journal late Tuesday afternoon.
The episode "caused or was likely to cause serious injury or death," and it violated state rules that require hospitals to follow procedures to keep track of all items placed in a patient's body during surgery, the state report said.
The hospital had no immediate comment, but Laurie Watson-Stone, its vice president for ancillary and support services, said she and other St. Joe's officials would try to respond in more depth on Wednesday.
The state deficiency report blanks out details including the surgeon's name, the patient's name and her current condition. It said the problem was discovered two months later, after the patient kept complaining of ongoing pain and her surgeon ordered a CT scan.
The woman had undergone surgery to repair an abdominal hernia. During the procedure, her surgeon used a visceral retainer, sometimes called a "FISH," to hold the bowels out of the way, the state said. The retainer is a flat, blue vinyl device, shaped a little like a flounder, 10 inches long and as much as 6.5 inches wide at its widest spot, the state report said.
While most dates in the report are blanked out, one reference to June 8 surgical records suggests the first operation might have occurred that day. The second operation or the CT scan might have occurred on July 29, which is when St. Joe's reported to state regulators that a foreign object had been left inside a patient's body.
The state investigation found that because the "fish" wasn't always used in hernia surgeries, it was sometimes brought into the operating room late and was not routinely included in a count of instruments made before and after surgery.
Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:
On 12/19/2011 at about 5:00 p.m. Sheriff Deputies were dispatched to the 3100 block of Fickle Hill rd, Arcata, to handle a report of found human remains. The reporting party said that his children found a human skull while playing in the yard. Upon arrival the Sheriff Sergeant confirmed that the skull was in fact human remains.
The father indicated said that his two young boys were playing near the tree-lined area of their yard when they discovered the skull. The boys then carried the remains into the home to show their father what they had discovered. The father believes that it is possible that one of his dogs may have found the skull in the wooded area near their home and brought it to the place where his two boys discovered it.
The area was searched but no other remains were located.
The Humboldt County Coroner arrived and took possession of the remains for further investigation and possible identification.
On 12/20/2011 search teams from the Humboldt County Sheriff's office returned to the area for a more detailed daylight. At about 11:45 a.m. the search teams located additional human remains in the wooded area south west of where the skull was located.
The decomposed condition of the body will require further forensic investigation to determine the age, sex, race and possible cause of the death.
Due to the unknown nature of this discovery, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Detective Division is investigating this as a suspicious death. At this time Crime Scene Investigators from the Department of Justice and the Humboldt County Coroners Office are assisting with this investigation. Further information will be provided when available.
Anyone with information is requested to call the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line 707-268-2539.
OK police. OK occupiers. You're being watched.
Or more accurately, you're gonna be watched, very soon, by specially trained independent observers. (No, not TV reporters!)
An independent observer program that was active in the early 2000s during timber protests is being revived and will start training new observers next month. Mark your calendar for Sunday, Jan. 15, from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
The observers are taught to make observations without value judgments or interpretations. They take notes if they see potential harm to people or property at protests, rallies or demonstrations. (Sorry, they are not available for family gatherings or company holiday parties.) When appropriate, independent observers write reports that are kept on file with the program, which is endorsed by Humboldt County's Human Rights Commission.
For more information on the Jan. 15 training session, contact the Human Rights Commission hotline at 268-2548 or Christina Allbright, one of the trained observers, at 672-5958.
To the shock and dismay of tongues county-wide, Hurricane Kate's announced on Monday that their final wood-fired pizza will come out of the oven Friday, Dec. 23.
The closure comes to us courtesy of that derned ol' sucking economy. Owners Elizabeth Adams and Matthew Yadley have been pretty openly pursuing potential buyers since summer, but nothing has materialized. They may continue to cater some events in the future.
Boo. Make your somber reservations to color on your final paper tablecloth now.
The North Coast Journal is confirming in this week's edition that the new mystery tenant in the old Gottschalks building in the Bayshore Mall is indeed the largest grocery-apparel-pharmacy retailer in the world.
"What Wal-Mart was denied in 1999 -- a foothold in Humboldt County, where land for big box retailers is surprisingly scarce -- becomes a reality in the spring of 2012."
This week's Journal is on newsstands now. The full story will be online by noon Thursday.
UPDATE: A press release was released by Wal-Mart after the Journal's story hit newsstands:
Walmart to Bring Store to Eureka
Store Will be Located at Former Gottschalks at Bayshore Mall
EUREKA, Calif. (Dec. 14, 2011) – Today, Walmart announced its plans to remodel and renovate the vacant, former Gottschalks store located within the Bayshore Mall. The store will provide customers a convenient one-stop shopping experience for families and bring opportunities for about 200 new jobs and additional tax revenue to support the area’s local economy.
Walmart received approvals earlier this month to remodel the existing building at the northwest corner of Broadway and Truesdale street. Modest in size, Walmart’s plans include adding a pharmacy, a new vestibule, interior wall finishes, shelving and signage as well as refrigeration cases within the approximate 73,000 square foot building. Construction recently began with demolition and site preparation and is expected to continue for approximately 12 to 15 months. The site is zoned for retail use.
“Walmart stores offer a quick and convenient shopping experience for customers who need household basics, prescriptions and general merchandise all at our everyday low prices,” said Debbie Rood, Walmart regional general manager for its stores in northern California. “We are excited to bring this store closer to our customers and to join the Eureka business community as well as supporting local non-profits through our ongoing charitable giving.”
Designed as a convenient family shopping center, customers will find merchandise for their everyday household needs, along with electronics, health and beauty, sporting goods, toys and apparel at the Eureka Walmart.
The Eureka Walmart, like all new Walmart stores, includes energy-efficient technology and environmentally friendly features to reduce energy and water consumption and minimize waste. Features include LED lighting used in exterior signage and refrigeration cases, a energy management system for adjusting energy usage and one of the industry’s most efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) units available. The construction and demolition program will capture and recycle the widest possible range of materials recovery options.
Walmart opened its first store in California in 1991 and currently employs more than 73,000 associates across the state. As of October 2011, the average, wage for regular, full-time hourly associates in California was $12.69 per hour (Walmart stores). In 2011, Walmart spent more than $21.9 billion for merchandise and services with 3,581 suppliers in the state of California.*
Further, in FY 2011 in California, Walmart stores, Sam’s Club and the Walmart Foundation awarded more than $29.1 million in cash and in-kind donations to local organizations in the communities they serve. Through additional funds donated by customers and by Walmart associates throughout the state, the retailer’s contributions in California totaled more than $32.5 million.
*Supplier figures provided by Dunn & Bradstreet.
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