Erin Dunn of Fortuna Chamber of Commerce blames Marijuana culture for shortage of Medical Professionals

erin dunn

Earlier this week we heard a community comment on KINS featuring Erin Dunn of the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce.

She expressed extreme concern over the very real crisis of not being able to attract and retain qualified medical staff in the county. She says “having beautiful scenery is just not enough”.

She goes on to blame the lack of qualified doctors and nurses on completely illogical grounds. She laid out her list:

1.“There’s not enough shopping.”

2.“Travel is too difficult.”

3.”They’re just not hip to the marijuana culture”.

She then dismissed the first two and went after the “Marijuana Culture”, saying it promotes a “lack of professionalism”.

So….it’s the “marijuana culture” that caused the murder of Father Freed and other high profile killings making Eureka more dangerous than the ghetto’s of Richmond. Wrong Ms. Dunn. Eureka is one of the most stringent enforcers of marijuana laws. In fact, Eureka probably has the fewest marijuana grows of any municipality in the county! Yet, even with all that marijuana enforcement, violent crime is rising exponentially.

She finally wound up her thesis by concluding that we don’t pay medical professionals enough. She may be right about the lower pay, but the real culprit here complete escapes her. She, like so many of the movers and shakers around this county, is in complete denial about the out of control crime wave sweeping this county and particularly the county seat of Eureka. The daily grind of robberies, shootings, stabbings, rapes and murders is what is taking a toll on professionals. Let’s face it, their jobs are more portable than yours and ours. If you could leave Eureka with a guaranteed 6 figure salary and the comfort of knowing you live in a safe community, wouldn’t you be more than tempted?

This community is in a crisis. Not a funding crisis for doctors and nurses, but a quality of life crisis. The ramifications are dreary, and the cause is morbid. Humboldt County, one of the most naturally beautiful places in the United States, is so filled with crime and disorder that you can’t even pay professionals to move here. Somethings gotta give…..


33 thoughts on “Erin Dunn of Fortuna Chamber of Commerce blames Marijuana culture for shortage of Medical Professionals

  1. Doctors won’t come here because “there’s not enough shopping?” No. She didn’t really say that. Did she?

    Never mind. I don’t really want to know.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Actually, snotty as it sounds, there’s truth to the fact that shopping opportunities — as well as cultural amenities such as entertainment (think big-names musicians, actors, etc), high-end restaurants, plus ease of travel — impact physicians’ willingness to relocate to an area. It’s not so much for themselves, but often their spouses and families don’t want to move here, or if they do come to HumCo, stay here. The fact of the matter is simply that if they are accustomed to being in an urban area,moving to a rural community is not an option.


      • I agree that the the most significant aspect of |Humboldt as a place to live is that its a rural area and that means, much less than average population density and much greater distance to places with higher population density. Humboldt is also relatively economically depressed, which definitely ties in reduced local shopping opportunities. Well, what you could tell prospective doctors is you’ll make less money here, but there’s less here to spend your money on so you won’t notice it.(that’s a joke).

        As far a travel being difficult, that’s also part of what a rural place is. But if it refers to ease of getting far away to exotic locales, the answer is since HumCo is a little slice of heaven, why would you even want to go away(to some place worse)? Practically though, that doctor in SoHum flew a private plane, so that’s an answer.

        Liked by 2 people

    • The head of Chamber of Commerce complains that there is not enough shopping. Maybe that is her fault. The other fact that completely goes unmentioned is that many very respectable anti-marijuana business owners derive most of their income from the marijuana industry and its progeny. So Ms Dunn is what we call a hypocrite.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish there was a magic bullet to fix the county, but it’s more complicated than that. Certainly more complex than “doctors don’t understand cannabis culture” — you’re right that the crime is definitely a factor in whether people want to stay here. Does the community really want to fix the problem? I think so, but the denial has to end first.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. The reason Humboldt County can’t attract or hold medical providers is there aren’t enough well-insured people here. Medicaid and Medicare barely cover costs, worker’s compensation reimbursements aren’t much better (and there aren’t as many high injury industrial jobs) and college loan debts of hundreds of thousands force new graduates into more lucrative markets. If anything, “gardeners” who paid cash kept lots of medical practices open as well as the businesses where the rest of us work. Declininig pot prices are taking their toll now.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Agreed. Large numbers of MediCal and MediCaid patients tend to keep medical providers away. That’s the biggie.

      But, as much as many of us hate to admit it, I get the impression many of them don’t want to live away from highly populated areas- the big cities, if you will. Big cities are big for a reason: Lots of people like to live there for whatever reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think they necessarily want to live in big cities. They want to live and work where they can make a good living, where they have the hospital services and specialties required for modern health care and enough providers in their community that they aren’t burned out by excessive demand. Our once good health care system is becoming like that in the 2nd world with great care available in large cities but only barely adequate/emergency care (if that) available in more rural communities like ours. Insurance companies are encouraging (even forcing in some cases) their customers to leave the area for some elective surgeries that can be done here just as well, but for lower prices. This, of course, further reduces the funding for our health care system.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “I don’t think they necessarily want to live in big cities.

        I don’t know. Maybe. I do know we’ve been going to UCSF for medical business for at least 8 years now. Of all the medical people I’ve spoken with (No, I didn’t take a survey) I’ve never heard any of them say “I sure wish I lived up there”. I get the impression they’re very happy living in the Bay Area and wouldn’t have it any other way.

        Then again, I haven’t spoken to that many of them.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Living here is both a filter and a test.

    Medically we are a suburb of Palo Alto, San Francisco, Sonoma, Sacramento…via helicopter or if you are lucky and it’s not an emergency, by 6 hour trip one way on two lane roads and congested city freeways.

    The shopping..if it’s stuff you need Fed Ex/Big Brown or the USPS will get it to you, even shoes can be bought online..but if you need to be wowed in a glitzy store where everyone is your new best friend you need big expensive stores..why do you need that daily shopping fix might be the question..

    As to the entertainment, there is plenty of it, we being a middle of the week venue for entertainers traveling between here and there..smaller venues, up closer and more personal and less expensive too, we have it good in that dept…but if you are grumpy about the shopping you will also feel less than adequate because the biggest may not get here.

    A person’s ego perhaps shouldn’t be so dependent on such transient externalities as the glitz of entertainment and shopping..but then one would perhaps be the barely willing partner in a couple that moved here. Not everyone will be happy in a small town/rural experience, a basic fact.
    It’s a filter and a test.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I dunno…

    Anyone who wears a panda-head hat can’t be all bad.

    I lean toward the economic argument… anyone with a couple hundred thousand dollars of student loans to pay… well, they aren’t going to get them paid off here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have talked to one physician about student loans. Even with financial help from his parents, the physician’s son’s student debt from medical school is over $300,000.

      I agree with Allison that there is no magic bullet.

      I agree with Erin, too, that professionalism is lacking, but it is lacking all around, including some of our elected officials.

      I think the situation is much more complicated than blaming it all on marijuana. That is just as absurd as blaming the declining timber extraction industry on the environmentalists.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. from Kym Kemp
    a link to a Kaiser Health News-letter article
    ‘When Health Care Is Far From Home’

    a good article looking at remote rural medical care with a focus on Hayfork,Trinity County.

    Mentioned that ‘In Trinity County, where Hayfork is located, medical services overall became hard to find. In 2012…. there were 11 medical doctors currently practicing, roughly one per 1,200 residents. Statewide, the ratio is roughly 1 per 300.’ Like eureka but more remote…

    According to the National Rural Health Association, only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural America, where nearly a quarter of the population lives…article here:

    Maybe it’s not just Eureka and whether we are in or out of the weed biz…

    Liked by 5 people

  7. What would you expect Erin Dunn to say? She was Maxam’s spokesperson after Mary Bullwinkle. It was her job to deflect.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I know a few local doctors that have their own airplanes to enjoy lunch and shopping in SF on the weekend.

    There’s many other places to live than Eureka.

    Docs from Redwood Memorial live happily in Hydesville. After their worldwide travels they’ll tell you how anxious and fortunate they are to return home to such a gorgeous area where their kids can avoid the asthma epidemics in the cities.

    Instead of discarding this nation’s bright, eager and discarded inner-city minority youths, we should be offering them free 8 year university educations in return for 5 years of service in America’s free clinics. The Doc shortage would become another pointless historical tragedy.

    Maybe the TE’s resident right-winger can explain why “our freedoms” shouldn’t be extended to my “free-market” choice of seeing a Mexican doctor downtown to repair a broken arm for $500 instead of $5,000? (They’ve been successfully healing common illnesses for a long time and could be licensed in the U.S. for that purpose). In the process, we could repatriate the millions of Americans travelling to Mexico each year for health and dental needs.

    End the protections of physician’s businesses from competition and every damn one of them will finally be begging for socialized healthcare.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What in sweet hell were you mumbling? You obvious got your prescription filled. So lets get this straight. you want to give someone free 8 years in school to work for free for 5 years. And the right wing people who not one of voted for obamacare, which obamacare clearly makes it illegal for competition. is to blame? And hey we could have 500 dollar broken legs here to , you just cant sue if something goes wrong or if you contract something from the hospital. And hey if you checked , the doctors in mexico probably did get a free U.S paid for education which they moved home and used skills in mexico.


      • I think we should give everyone a free education only limited by their own abilities, not their parent’s bank account or how much they can borrow for school. This would vastly reduce the most tragic waste of all, human potential. These college-educated citizens would earn more and pay vastly more in taxes over their working lives than the cost of their educations as they provide the professional services we need so badly. The promise to every child that they could go to college if they earn it with academic achievement would undoubtedly make a huge positive difference in lower education as well.

        Liked by 3 people

    • The “protections of physician’s businesses from competition” which most people call licenses, protect patients from quacks. Expecting people to research a “doctor’s” credentials when they are having a heart attack or with a broken leg is absurd. Those credentials on the wall aren’t evidence of membership in a business organization, they are proof of many years of study and hard work to qualify as doctors. Furthermore, any foreign educated doctor can be licensed in the US if they pass language and licensing exams and finish a US residency. Hospitals all over the country have lots of foreign-trained doctors, but many patients don’t want to see them because the foreign accents make it hard to understand and follow medical advice. Take your libertarian “let the patient beware” nonsense and stuff it.

      Liked by 3 people

      • “Hospitals all over the country have lots of foreign-trained doctors, but many patients don’t want to see them because the foreign accents make it hard to understand and follow medical advice.” (OPJ)

        And yet, I’ve read that millions of Americans travel abroad for healthcare each year, especially minor surgery and dentistry in Mexico. Of course, many are traveling to Canada, France, GB, (and increasingly, China for transplants).

        If you’re sick and lack insurance, like tens of millions of Americans, access to a doctor without the added grief of bankruptcy is far more important than someone’s “accent”.

        I never thought of myself as a “libertarian” but it is definitely “absurd” for you to believe that a license will protect you from quacks! Each year 100,000 Americans die from incompetent drug prescriptions alone. Did you miss the NCJ cover this week? Every doctor and hospital in the nation has you sign a hold-harmless, arbitration clause before they “practice” on you, in fact, no one can really understand just how dangerous U.S. hospitals are when most lawsuits are never adjudicated due to “no-fault” settlements. And since the legislature decided that your life is only worth $250,000, few lawyers are willing take-on highly paid medical insurance attorneys. Unless a doctor is on video strangling you, you’d better get that reverse mortgage for a few hundred thousand dollars to pay your lawyers.

        The local horror stories are unbelievable. I’ve been called to jury duty almost every year, many are for medical malpractice. An acquaintance in Ferndale nearly bled to death the same day she was sent home after surgery with internal bleeding, but she lost her lawsuit anyway.

        Recently, the owner of a popular Arcata restaurant lost their partner to a heart attack after Mad River flew him out of the area because they were unable to stabilize him.

        Did you know that a local helicopter Co. offers insurance to fly you the Hell outa here? I think there’s another Co. offering them some competition.

        Too many stories…too little space…

        Instead of crossing their fingers before spending $50 to see a nurse at the clinic…(only to be referred to the hospital anyway if you are actually ill), many Americans would see foreign doctors working under their nation’s licenses for common illnesses, finally providing tens of millions of the uninsured affordable access.

        Accepting foreign licenses in the U.S. would aid in the U.S. transition to socialized medicine with national regulations and standardized licencing, (most of the world’s docs today are licensed under a socialized system).

        “The U.S. leads the world in the highest medical costs, infant mortality, suicide, shortest lifespans, and highest fatality rates from every major disease, compared to every other industrialized nation.” May, 2005, JAMA

        Costly, deadly, tragic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Obviously not everyone has a problen understanding foreign accents and I didn’t say they did. No rural community can afford all the bells and whistles of large city/university hospitals so obviously there is a need for emergency flights to medical centers equiped to handle them. All people die eventually no matter if they are partners of restaurant owners, how expert their medical care or where it is received. What a silly red herring. Your claim that you get called almost every year for jury duty for malpractice cases is an obvious lie since there are few malpractice cases that ever get to court locally. Malpractice insurance companies settle them routinely if there is any doubt because it is cheaper than going to court. If you really cared about poor medical outcomes you wouldn’t be advocating for a lower bar but a higher one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Did you miss the NCJ cover this week? Every doctor and hospital in the nation has you sign a hold-harmless, arbitration clause before they “practice” on you,”

        Yes, I guess I did and, in fact, missed it again when specifically looking for it. The “malpractice” Living Trials article certainly doesn’t say that. Please provide a link to the story that makes that claim.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “Your claim that you get called almost every year for jury duty for malpractice cases is an obvious lie since there are few malpractice cases that ever get to court locally.” OPJ

        You sound like a pretty angry individual Jane, are you OK?


        People are frequently called to jury duty for medical malpractice before the case is settled and everyone goes home.

        It’s hard to conceive that allowing licensed doctors from other nations to practice here could lower the bar further than it already is.

        I’m willing to try something different and I’m confident that it would lead quicker to socialized medicine.


      • Again, foreign trained doctors are allowed to practice in the US once they have demonstraved their competence by passing the same tests that doctors in the US must pass and taking a residency to demonstrate their competence. If you don’t understand how allowing foreign doctors who can’t pass the tests to practice medicine here is lowering the bar, you aren’t capable of having a rational discussion.


      • Jane, it is irrational to call this a “discussion” when we are not “talking”. This is a debate that is apparently interesting to you, despite your incredulity and insults.

        Apparently, you haven’t traveled much, nor do you know many that do. Foreign doctors have been treating and curing American patients and tourists forever, for free, without understanding one word of each other’s language.

        Once again, U.S. docs passed their tests and the U.S. has the highest costs and worst outcomes in the industrialized world!

        In other words, foreign nation’s licensed doctors are having better results at lower costs. We can respect their licenses, their backgrounds and their achievements without forcing them to memorize the translation of every medical condition and English term that our own domestic doctors are apparently challenged by.

        Other industries realized this long ago and seek to import as many professionals as possible: scientists, engineers, architects, teachers, etc, without advanced U.S. degrees. Foreign doctor’s ability to pass a test is no indication of their ability to diagnose and to translate their diagnosis.

        Be honest Jane, you have no idea if respecting other nation’s medical licenses would “lower the bar”. I’ve seen enough suffering, misdiagnosis, and lawsuits from people bankrupted by a common illness to have an open mind.

        Imagine how devastating it would be for the U.S. medical industry to realize that respecting the licenses of practitioners from socialized nations dramatically improves our healthcare system.

        Current trends indicate that most U.S. jobs will soon involve keeping fabulously wealthy Americans entertained. (More bad news for Humboldt). For example, anyone with family in America’s wealthiest cities will tell you about the multitudes of licensed, highly paid, cosmetic surgery quacks.

        Meanwhile, Humboldt County and local media have buried the Humboldt County Health Assessment Report by Dr. Ann Lindsay documenting local health statistics far below the abysmal national averages.

        There’s no doubt that Humboldt County residents would benefit immensely from foreign licensed doctors.

        Easing restrictions on foreign licenses would immediately provide tens of millions of Americans with affordable access to a licensed doctor while hastening the end of the U.S. as the only non-socialized health care system.


  9. The healthcare delivery from only one local hospital while ministering to the needs of the whole person – body, mind and spirit may be the problem ?
    The fact that the police have a review board of Tommy’s case are 95% cop or council related maybe a problem.(good old boys)
    The fact we have no place for the mentally ill may be a problem.


    • yep…..a one sided police review board is definitely what’s keeping doctors from coming to Humboldt!


      • Right like they are not concerned about their kids driving around in the old Lexus . Maybe if they were a heart surgeon Oh wait he left.


  10. Another factor in medical investment and abilities in Humboldt is high speed reliable internet. Medical records and files are routinely transferred and used by doctors while seeing patients and while consulting and much more…struggling with it here ‘after you’ve seen Paree’ would drive a modern trained physician absolutely crazy.

    Here’s a city that despite the Luddites in state government, made the choice for a municipal internet, high sped.

    ‘Chattanooga’s investment in fast internet infrastructure is paying big economic dividends.’

    Read about it this HuffPost article, 3 paragraphs, there’s much more plus links to the relevant info in the article:

    But with the help of a $111 million grant from President Obama’s federal stimulus package, The EPB was formed out of necessity — city officials figured that if Comcast was the only game in town, they would have little incentive to invest money in beefing up its infrastructure to provide reliable service and faster internet to customers. In fact, Verizon FiOs already said it would stop building out its network in 2013.

    “It just didn’t look like the private sector was going to bring true, high-speed connectivity to this market,” EPB spokeswoman Danna Bailey told CNN Money.

    Now, Chattanooga’s investment in fast internet infrastructure is paying big economic dividends. NerdWallet rated Chattanooga the 6th best city for economic growth for 2009 to 2012, the years immediately following its decision to invest in high-speed public broadband network.
    In that same time frame, median household income in Chattanooga grew by 13.5 percent and home values increased by 14 percent. This growth happened despite cruel austerity measures imposed by Tennessee’s right-wing state government that resulted in roughly 3,000 jobs lost in the government and construction sectors. However, new businesses are rapidly locating to Chattanooga, eager to capitalize on the fastest internet in the United States.

    Household income grew.

    Home values increased.

    ‘Businesses moving to Chattanooga for the high speed internet.’

    This could happen here.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. “Eureka more dangerous than the ghetto’s of Richmond.”

    What defines Richmond as a ghetto and separates Richmond from Eureka? Seems like either a poor choice of words, or an even poorer point.

    “So….it’s the “marijuana culture” that caused the murder of Father Freed and other high profile killings making Eureka more dangerous than the ghetto’s of Richmond. Wrong Ms. Dunn. Eureka is one of the most stringent enforcers of marijuana laws. In fact, Eureka probably has the fewest marijuana grows of any municipality in the county! Yet, even with all that marijuana enforcement, violent crime is rising exponentially.”

    There is so much to comment on in this article, but there is something in this paragraph that I’ve noticed in other posts of yours that I’d like to explore.

    Erin Dunn’s comments are available online as all of KINS’ community comments are. What she was focusing on, correctly or not, that is not my point, is “marijuana culture”. What you turned this into in this paragraph, and I’ve noticed you’ve done this before, is trying to create a definitive line between victimless crime and violent crime.

    The problem we on the left have to deal with – and I don’t think the misuse of the term “ghetto” here is coincidental – is there will be a price to be paid for public acceptance of a drug trade. Maybe someday in the future marijuana will be delivered in crime-free vehicles with wrap-around advertising and workers paid below a living wage like alcohol is. Until that time, cannabis will have it’s roots in a culture that is not legal.

    There is no definitive line that you are demanding the world follow from criminals to our peace officers to our justice system. It’s all connected.

    Ms Dunn was not referring to Eureka “probably” having the fewest grows of any municipality in the county (first of all, really?, second of all, who are we comparing this too?). She was focused on the culture.

    My interest here is I find this as a clue in trying to decipher the TE’s anger about Chief Mills. I think there is increasing evidence that your anger is in part due to a will to define what is and isn’t enforced.

    That’s not Chief Mill’s responsibility to decide. We shouldn’t be expecting our police force to figure out which laws we should and which laws we shouldn’t enforce. Let’s keep it simple for them.

    I’m sorry to have to break this to you, but mj is illegal and I appreciate it’s enforcement across the board with no privilege given based on a community’s values – or – for that matter – their income level or their race.

    We can all pick on Erin’s comments for innumerable reasons (and have), but to ignore the influence of cannabis on our culture is to have one’s head in the sand. As a Eureka resident, it’s smell alone is evidence of how deeply it permeates not only our culture, but our….air.

    We need to understand, that like our exploitation of our land for lumber, our exploitation of our land to earn money for Weed Inc. will continue our region’s experiment with a resource mono-economy. Eureka will be a guinea pig in this experiment b/c the costs of this monoculture will not be internalized on SoHums farms or an Arcata grow-house. Many of them will be externalized to Eureka and in forms that we may not be able to directly link to that plant grown in Anon’s garden for strictly medicinal purposes.


    • I listened to the comment and was surprised to hear she didn’t attribute lack of shopping or inconvenient travel as causes for HumCo not being appealing to doctors. She did claim “a limited labor pool results in lack of professionalism among service workers” which creates a strongly negative first impression for new arrivals.

      She related it to pot culture only through “lack of available workers during trimming season”. I don’t follow what she means by that. My best guess is she’s saying that pot culture attracts people who aren’t ambitious in the sense of being willing to dedicate themselves to service work in hopes it will lead to better future opportunities.

      I agree that there is a general lack or professionalism among service workers in HumCo. But I don’t agree that the reason for it can be attributed to “pot culture” unless that’s just a metaphor for the ethos of HumCo.

      Liked by 1 person

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