News That Matters

Health Matters | Expanding access to care by investing in our people – Times-Standard

We at Providence Humboldt County have been gearing up this year, as we do every few years, to partner with many community stakeholders and organizations to update our community health needs assessment (CHNA). We’re always excited to join so many community partners in this process that the CDC describes as a “state, tribe, local, or territorial assessment that identifies key health needs and issues through systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis.”

As we at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Providence Redwood Memorial Hospital begin reflecting on our community needs, one of the most common themes we found ourselves returning to was the criticality of enhancing timely access to exceptional care as an imperative to lifting the health and wellbeing of our community for decades to come. Whether that be timely access to our primary or specialty care providers, or community-based behavioral health and crisis services, or our emergency and hospital-based services. Enhancing timely access to exceptional care for the residents of the North Coast is a critical piece of our mission and commitment in service of our amazing community.

As you can imagine, this is no small feat in rural and remote communities like ours. We recognize that this will take continued, and in many cases expedited and innovative, success in the recruitment and retention of the best and brightest caregivers to (and from) our communities. The question is what it will take to realize this success. Simply put, we believe it will take investing in our people and what drives them to care so deeply for our community.

Among our many efforts to expand access by investing in our people are two innovative initiatives and programs I’d like to highlight. I hope to share at least one way you can directly support the enhancement of timely access to our exceptional care in our community.

St. Joseph Hospital Family Medicine Residency

One vital step in the direction of enhancing access by investing in our clinicians has been the growth of our Providence St. Joseph Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program. Since we accepted our first group of residents in July 2019, the medical training collaboration with Open Door Community Health Center and Providence Medical Group has provided exceptional medical training to physicians looking for family medicine (primary care and hospital-based) opportunities in rural, and beautiful, communities like Humboldt.

Our goal is to strengthen our exceptional community-focused Family Medicine Residency Program that recruits, retains, and optimally develops exceptional physicians that serve our community. We just accepted our next class of six residents and two are from our very own communities along the North Coast. We will be celebrating the second graduating class of the program in early summer. (To learn more, go to

Destination Humboldt: Recruitment, retention, and clinician/caregiver wellbeing

As many of our patients and caregivers are feeling the impacts of the national physician shortage and thus impacting the goal of timely access to exceptional care, I’m excited to announce, Destination Humboldt. This is an innovative initiative to support caregiver recruitment, retention, and wellbeing that we are launching here at Providence Humboldt County that is already experiencing early success in expanding access to care.

A key focus of Destination Humboldt is to partner with our generous community and donors to cultivate a clinical practice environment that supports our efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest clinicians to our community. This structured program will provide many tools to advance access to care, including but is not limited to, supporting recruitment efforts by alleviating a significant amount of the student loan burden and housing support needs for eligible clinicians, support retention by investing in leadership development trainings and those interested in research, to ongoing wellbeing efforts such as actively facilitating the integration of clinicians and their families into our community and investing in technology and resources that reduces the time the physician have to spend on the computer allowing for more time with their patients, which brings them more joy in work.

Continued growth of this program will help us enhance the well-being of our current and future caregivers and their families by ensuring they balance work with home and community. This will reduce caregiver burnout and increase long-term career satisfaction, keeping those amazing clinicians right here in Humboldt County.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can directly support these Destination Humboldt efforts and to expand timely access to our exceptional care here in our community, you can reach out to Heather Setton at

Darian Harris is the chief executive of Providence in Humboldt County.

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