BY DR. GREG DUNCAN
The Del Norte County Healthcare District’s legal efforts to stop Sutter Health from taking ownership of our hospital, terminating hospital employees and outsourcing their jobs, and converting the hospital to a small, “Critical Access” facility, will be heard this Wednesday, October 17, in Del Norte Superior Court, Department 2, at 10 a.m.. The Hearing is open to the public.
Recent Action by Sutter Health (reported in The Daily Triplicate 10/13/2012)
Sutter Health has announced they will be “centralizing” some hospital services (meaning they will be outsourcing local jobs) to a Sutter facility in Roseville. Sutter made this announcement despite the presence of a standing Court order which prohibits downsizing of departments at Sutter Coast Hospital.
How will Sutter’s decision to outsource jobs affect you?
First, it will be impossible to discuss concerns, such as billing questions, with anyone locally.
Second, it will transfer local jobs to a remote facility. Sutter has provided no information on cost savings. Since employee costs are often lower in small towns than in large cities, it is not clear that any savings will be realized. However, loss of local control is certain.
Third, the hospital will lose skilled employees, essential to hospital operations in the event we do not continue a relationship with Sutter Health. Loss of local business service experts will make it difficult or impossible for the community to gain information about our hospital.
Do we have an alternative to Sutter?
Yes. As reported by Emily Jo Cureton in the Del Norte Triplicate, Asante Health System, which operates both Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, and Three Rivers Hospital in Grants Pass, has a proven record of healthcare excellence. Asante is standing by with a commitment to extend their expertise to residents of Del Norte and Curry Counties.
Can we explore alternatives to Sutter?
Yes. The Board of Directors of Sutter Coast Hospital is still the governing body of the hospital. At our most recent Board meeting, Sutter Health’s Regional President offered a proposal to explore alternatives to Regionalization. I will provide more details on this alternative as soon the the Board allows. The Sutter Coast Board operates under a “closed door” policy, which prohibits Board members such as myself from disclosing specific Board decisions without approval of the Board. It is my opinion that a charitable organization, exempt from taxes, should operate more openly. For the past three months, I have been requesting a legal opinion from Sutter Health on their closed Board room policy, but to date, have received no response.
Does our community have a say in the future of our only hospital?
Yes. Your County Supervisors, City Council, and many other elected officials are committed to accessible and affordable local healthcare. Please take a few minutes to express your support for their position, and consider writing a letter to the Triplicate. Our community newspaper continues to provide unbiased coverage of local issues. This is your chance to be heard!
More information on Sutter’s Regionalization takeover, and a petition opposing Sutter Health, is available at my office on 1200 Marshall St.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Hope to see you at the Hearing. Please say hello and share your thoughts. The physicians of Sutter Coast Hospital have voted unanimously to oppose Regionalization and Critical Access, and to expand and improve healthcare in our two counties.