|OPEN LETTER TO RESIDENTS OF DEL NORTE AND CURRY COUNTIES
Sutter Health and their appointed members on the Board of Sutter Coast Hospital are continuing their effort to “Regionalize” Sutter Coast Hospital, which will transfer ownership and governance of our locally owned hospital to Sutter Health in San Francisco. The local Sutter Coast Hospital Board refuses to rescind their 11/3/11 vote to Regionalize, despite widespread opposition to Regionalization.
On 10/17/12, a Superior Court Injunction was granted to our Del Norte Healthcare District. The Injunction blocks Sutter from taking hospital ownership, or downsizing Sutter Coast to a “Critical Access” facility. Critical Access appeals to Sutter because it allows them to charge higher amounts for the treatment of Medicare patients. Unfortunately, Critical Access would also require closure of 50% of the hospital beds, and eliminate the current requirement that a physician be present in the Emergency Room at all hours.
If Sutter Coast Hospital were a Critical Access hospital, we would have been closed to all admissions on 57% of the days, and closed to all but pediatric and maternity admissions 74% of the days, during the six month period ending 3/31/13. Air ambulance transfers for hundreds of patients would have been needed under Critical Access restrictions. Cost of emergency transport, family visits to distant hospitals, and travel home are the patient’s responsibility. The physicians at Sutter Coast have passed seven unanimous resolutions opposing Sutter Health’s plans.
Regionalization and Critical Access decisions are being made in a closed Board room at Sutter Coast Hospital. No observers are permitted, no meeting minutes are released, and a subpoena for the hospital’s financial records was ignored by Sutter Health.
If you would like to help stop Regionalization and Critical Access, please consider the following:
1. Write letters to California Attorney General Kamala Harris (address: Office of the Attorney General, 300 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013-1230) asking for an investigation of Sutter Health. Send a copy of your letter to, or simply call State Sen. Jim Nielsen (State Capitol, Room 4062, Sacramento , CA 95814-4900 phone: (916) 651-4004); State Assembly Member Wes Chesbro (State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento CA 94249-0002) phone (916) 319-2002, and U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman (317 Third Street, Suite 1, Eureka, CA 95501), phone (707) 407-3585.
All of these elected representatives have met with local residents and share our concerns about Sutter Health’s actions in our region.
2. Ask the local Board members who voted for Regionalization if they read and understood the Regional governance process before they cast their vote. (Sutter Health did not give the Board members the Regional bylaws before asking the Board to vote to Regionalize).
3. Contribute to a legal fund to keep our hospital locally owned and governed, and stop Critical Access implementation. Any amount is greatly appreciated. (The account is currently being set up, and the information on how to donate will be included in advertisements, at my office, and in my subsequent email newsletters.)
We are trying to stop a $9 billion corporation, with teams of lawyers and $735 million in profits last year, from taking hospital ownership or downsizing us to a Critical Access facility. If you want a voice in this struggle, this is the time to act.
I sincerely thank everyone who continues to encourage and support our efforts to expand and improve healthcare in this region.