“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” – Afrikaans proverb
These were the words that came to mind recently when I had the wonderful opportunity to stand with so many community leaders as we celebrated the promise and potential of the new innovative North Coast Health Care Education Hub, recently announced by Sen. Mike McGuire, Dr. Tom Jackson (President, Cal Poly Humboldt), Dr. Keith Flamer (president, College of the Redwoods), their deans of nursing, Kimberly Perris and Shauna Burdick, Connie Stewart and many others.
As I reflected on this tremendous achievement that will help strengthen health care education and address a key need of our community for decades to come, it also made me reflect on our incredible long-standing legacy here in Humboldt County of demonstrating how we come together to meet the needs of our community and how so much can be accomplished when we work together.
For us at Providence in Humboldt County, this legacy began over 100 years ago, with eight incredibly strong women (Sisters of St. Joseph) and led by a compassionate and visionary leader, Mother Bernard Gosselin. She and seven of her sisters arrived in Humboldt County in 1912 with the goal of “serving your dear neighbor without distinction.”
This meant going into the community and serving in whatever capacity was available and working with others to care for their neighbors as more could be accomplished together. This vision and community collaboration led to the establishment of the St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka in 1920. This legacy of dedication to doing all we can to live our mission by serving everyone within our community and working together to achieve the previously unthinkable has been handed down to us over decades , continues to inspire those of us here today at St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial Hospitals to serve, to inspire.
This spirit of compassion, foresight and cooperation is embodied daily by our caregivers, doctors and providers, as well as our sisters past and present (including our dear Sister Pat Hayhurst of Eureka who recently passed away last month and to Sister Thuy who in our board remains.and could be found offering blessings to our bedside attendants just last week).
Our teams at St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals are proud to share that this legacy lives on through our initiatives today, including another great collaboration we have with state and local community stakeholders to serve those in need. I am referring to the innovative and new program – The Providence Mother Bernard House in Eureka, which will help address the health and long-term stability for many facing housing insecurity in Humboldt County.
This vital program launch comes at a time in our community when there is increasing recognition of the significant impact of worsening post-pandemic rates of chronically unsheltered people in our community. When completed (late 2023), PMBH will be a permanent supportive housing program for people experiencing chronic homelessness. Once operational, the facility will provide a model of permanent supportive housing units (42 units) with rehabilitative care units (six units) and comprehensive supportive services that address the health and housing needs of each resident. Those support services will be led by the Providence CARE Network staff here in Humboldt County.
Nothing could be more fitting than this new transformational community resource, developed in partnership with so many in our community, named for Mother Bernard Gosselin, who had an unrelenting belief in what we are capable of here in Humboldt County when we come together in a shared cause and purpose to serve the needy.
None of this could have been made possible if not for the partnership of Connie Beck and the entire Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services team; the city of Eureka, the housing authorities — city of Eureka and Humboldt County as well as the tireless efforts of the Providence Community Health Investment and CARE Network teams on the ground here in Humboldt County; the Providence Supportive Housing team, who brought the housing development and operational expertise and so many more local and state organizations who helped fund and build this project.
“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” — Afrikaans proverb… In my time serving our community, I have still instilled incredible confidence in our future together, because time and time again we show just how far we can go when we work together here in Humboldt County, honoring the legacy of all who came before, while innovatively enhancing the health and well-being of all future generations.
Darian Harris is the CEO of Providence in Humboldt County.