The Santa Clarita City Council unanimously approved a Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital expansion plan Tuesday, following a public hearing with protest from members of a local carpenters union and calls by community members to include a mental health care unit for children.
Council members approved the expansion plan, which adds 200,000 square feet of floor area across a new inpatient building and diagnostics and treatment facility, with the added condition that the hospital has a discussion with unions about construction.
The council also added the condition that the hospital returns to the City Council before implementing paid parking in its McBean Parkway and Orchard Village Road parking structure, which also received the green light Tuesday to expand.
“I’m not in the business of telling people how to run their business,” Mayor Bill Miranda said. “I’m in the business of advocating, and tonight, I’m going to advocate for the union workers.”
Miranda said it’s necessary to pay fair wages and provide benefits to workers constructing the hospital, a project that does not currently have a timeline.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital CEO Roger Seaver agreed to meet with the unions at an undetermined time, but called the behavior of union protesters in front of the hospital “disgusting.”
“They degraded us. They throw banners up that are all lies. They’re allegations, they are erroneous. They don’t understand the heroes that work in our hospital,” said Seaver, adding he will not work with members of the union that has led a months-long protest outside the hospital’s campus.
Members of that union held a three-hour protest outside of council chambers Tuesday night. Their comments during the council’s public hearing called for fair wages and benefits.
City Council members acknowledged the need for local emergency mental health care for children 17 years of age and younger, but struggled with assigning the responsibility of a proposed feasibility study to determine the needs and possible solutions to address those needs.
Councilman Cameron Smyth suggested that the City Council “start building a kind of community discussion” on needs and solutions for local mental health care for adolescents.
“I think it’s totally appropriate for the council or members of the council to direct some of that leadership to bring people together, just like we’ve done before on other issues,” Smyth said.