Gregory J. Duncan, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Orthopedic Surgery
Headline Article Debunks Sutter’s Prior “Gloom and Doom” Forecast
For those who missed the 10/1/15 headline article in The Del Norte Triplicate, and were unable to attend yesterday’s Town Hall meeting, here is “the rest of the story” on Sutter’s financial claims . . . .
Background: In late 2013, Sutter executives told us that downsizing Sutter Coast Hospital to Critical Access status was necessary to stem Sutter Coast’s financial losses. Former hospital CEO Linda Horn publicly announced the hospital had not had a positive operating margin since 2008. (Ms. Horn’s statement is contradicted by Sutter’s own data, which shows operating income of $7 million for years 2009 plus 2010.)
The Camden Group (a consulting firm paid by Sutter) and Linda Horn both projected heavy losses at Sutter Coast through 2018. Those dire predictions were used to justify removing half of the hospital’s beds from service, which hospital officials conceded would necessitate an increase in mandatory patient transfers (due to the 25 acute care bed cap imposed by Critical Access). But in the face of the projected losses, Critical Access would allow Sutter Coast to triple its payments from Medicare. (source: Linda Horn, NewsPlus,” 1/17/14.) Thus, the downsizing was portrayed as a necessary trade off in the face of predictions of steep losses ahead.
Fast forward to 2014: The Del Norte Triplicate’s headline article 10/1/15 reported Sutter Coast Hospital’s profits were $10.8 million in 2014, and according to Sutter Coast CEO Mitch Hanna, expected to be roughly $11.9 million in 2015 (without Critical Access). (source: http://www.
Sutter’s gloomy 2013 forecasts turned into huge profits the next year. These profits are not surprising–Sutter Health is nationally renowned for its high prices and profiteering–see the following New York Times article, which discusses Sutter Health:
12/03/health/as-hospital- costs-soar-single-stitch-tops- 500.html?pagewanted=all
Critical Access news for 2015: The Sutter Coast Board of Directors, noting an influx of patients seeking treatment, voted to hold off converting Sutter Coast to Critical Access, but hospital officials “declined to share the census numbers for 2015 that prompted reconsideration of the Critical Access application.” (source:http://www.triplicate.com/
Hospital CEO Mitch Hanna later confirmed Sutter Coast’s Critical Access application has not been withdrawn, so the hospital Board keeps open the option of Critical Access at Sutter Coast, behind the veil of secrecy of Sutter Coast’s closed Board room.
Why Is This Important to You? Because if Sutter Coast downsizes to Critical Access, there will be 50% fewer available beds, more mandatory emergency patient transfers, plus, higher out of pocket costs and higher secondary insurance premiums for Medicare patients. (sources: Office of Inspector General Report Oct., 2014, and Kaiser Health News, 10/7/14)
How you can help address Sutter’s high prices, conflicting statements, and closed Board rooms:
1. Write The Del Norte Triplicate, letters to the editor, 312 H. St., Crescent City, CA 95531, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to include your phone number, which is not published.
2. Contact me at email@example.com if you would like more information, or if you have any information on hospital charges or patient transfers.
3. Join the 4,000 others who have signed the petition at my office, opposing Sutter’s plans to move ownership of Sutter Coast Hospital out of our county.
4. Please read the editorial below, published 10/15/15 in The Del Norte Triplicate, also available at this link: http://www.triplicate.com/
Thank you all for your continued support,
One thought on “Update on Sutter Coast Hospital Profits and Critical Access”
Business is business. But when it starts hurting people, then it should be criminal to “conduct business as usual”.
If there is no law against it, there should be. So if people want to see change, contact the lawmakers and see about drafting up something that is reasonable and simple. Go get some people who are directly hurt or the families of those who have died as a result of the cutbacks to the hospital beds and staff, if that can be determined and push to change the law to hold the hospital CEO’s accountable.
There is so much debate over this issue up there in Del Norte County, but i can assure you all that nothing will be corrected until new laws are passed. This is what we have laws for: To bring order to chaos. Be careful though, laws can bring chaos to order as well.