The San Benito Health Foundation at 351 Felice Drive in Hollister. Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.
The San Benito Health Foundation at 351 Felice Drive in Hollister. Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.

At the Aug. 14 ribbon-cutting the San Benito Health Foundation celebrated new renovations that allow the clinic to operate off the grid in the event of power outages. Hot weather fit the ceremony perfectly as the sun shone on new solar panels powering the clinic for the first time.

The genesis of the project was President/CEO Rosa Vivian Fernandez’s trip to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. She realized how important a dependable power supply is to people who are sick.

Following a meeting with Greenpower and the Aromas Progressive Action League, Fernandez worked to ensure a natural disaster would not leave San Benito County residents without a health clinic.

She told BenitoLink she was “overwhelmed by the community turnout” for the open house. She expressed sorrow for the loss of health foundation board member Robert Scattini, who worked to make the project happen and died a week before the grand opening.

The facility’s main green power supply is solar, and the system has a battery capable of storing power for seven days if needed. There is also a backup bioethanol generator for use if the facility consumes all the battery energy, although the generator releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other energy-saving methods in the clinic include LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances. 

Congressman Jimmy Panetta attended the event and said he was proud of what the foundation had achieved.

“This is the community coming together to do what is right not just for the people, but for the environment,” he said. As a member of the House Solar Caucus and the Climate Caucus, Panetta said he intends to return to Washington D.C. and use the San Benito Health Foundation as an example to show “what it means to come together and get things done in a reasonable amount of time, especially when it comes to caring for patients who need it the most, especially when it comes to protecting our environment.”

Local government officials were also at the ribbon-cutting, including several members of the Hollister City Council, San Juan Bautista Mayor Cesar Flores and San Benito County Supervisors Mark Medina and Jim Gillio.

“San Benito Health Foundation plays an integral role in providing health to a lot of members of our community who may not otherwise be able to get those services,” Gillio said. “That is why I am here to support their effort and thank them for all their hard work.” 


Other related BenitoLink articles:

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College and she reports on science and the environment....