WATSONVILLE -- Salud Para La Gente rescinded a planned layoff of 10 workers and backed off service reductions after dozens of workers and community members protested Monday.

The nonprofit health agency's board, faced with a $200,000 budget shortfall, had considered shuttering its seniors program, Elderday, and cutting staff and services in the dental department.

The board's decision to explore other options for plugging the budget gap was unanimous, according to President Marc Pimentel.

"The board has told staff we're not prepared to reduce dental services or Elderday right now," Pimentel said. "We told staff we need more information on other options."

He said staff had not done enough to investigate other potential solutions, such as other reductions or sources of revenue or partnering with other agencies to keep programs afloat.

The decision was made behind closed doors after an open session during which more than dozen speakers talked about the critical nature of the services to the community and urged the board to come up with a different plan.

Pimentel said he was encouraged to see among the speakers the heads of Santa Cruz County health and social services agencies as well as community leaders offering to help find alternatives.

"I am glad to see they are not only interested but actively engaged," he said.

Matt Nathanson, Service Employees International Union Local 521 regional vice president, was likewise encouraged by the board's move.

"We look forward to working in collaboration with Salud Para La Gente to find budget solutions that will protect and improve patient services," he said in a press release.

Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter at Twitter.com/DonnaJonesSCS