NILAND, Calif. - Niland residents take their healthcare needs very seriously. So, when they felt it threatened, they took to protesting on Tuesday at the local Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo.
Slab City resident Balu said, “The doctor’s been shipped to another town here in California. It was because she’s doing a good job – too good of a job.”
Residents said a Clinicas’ doctor named Celina Thompson has won their hearts, but she’s no longer there for them.
“They keep moving doctors out here. And they finally got a good one, and she didn’t want to leave, but they made her leave,” Balu said.
This made locals angry.
Niland Chamber of Commerce President Hollis Daker said, “She gave us good quality care while she was here. And a lot of people are upset that she left.”
Some came from the north end to join the protest.
Bombay Beach resident Cindy Hollenbeck said, “The people out here in the desert need someone to care about them, not just brush them aside and push meds off on them.”
Some are frustrated at losing a doctor who has their trust.
Slab City resident William Smiley said, “Not most of us like to go to a doctor.”
And now they fear the clinic is planning on closing.
“The Clinica may close,” Daker said.
They want answers.
“Some notice from the Clinica telling us what the problem was with Dr. Thompson and why she was removed. Find out the status of the Clinica here for all our outlying communities,” Daker said.
And even though Clinicas’ staff said they have no plans of closing, that wasn’t enough for the protesting residents. Some could only choke up when they talked about their beloved doctor.
“She’s just awesome. She’ll call you if she hasn’t seen you in a while. She’ll call to check up on you. She just cares about her patients. There’s just no words really – there isn’t,” Hollenbeck said.