Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Newsletter 3/25/13

MARCH 25, 2013



Summary of the past three weeks:
3/4/13:  Hospital physicians notify Board of Directors of Sutter Coast Hospital 
that the Board's purposeful exclusion of interested parties from their decision 
to transfer hospital ownership to Sutter Health violates Medicare regulations and
Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation standards, and that Sutter's Regional
bylaws violate California law which protects patients from corporate employees 
with no medical training having authority over patient care policies.

3/5/13:  Del Norte County Board of Supervisors draft a letter to the California 
Attorney General asking for an investigation of Sutter Health's activities in our

3/7/13:  Hospital Board acknowledges receipt of physicians concerns, but takes no
corrective action.  Instead, Sutter Health attorney Michael Duncheon states that
he will prepare a response for the Board.

3/25/13:  Sutter Health Sr. Vice President Mike Cohill announces resignation of 
Sutter Coast CEO Eugene Suksi.

You may be wondering what prompted the resignation of our CEO.  Based on the timing,
I doubt the resignation had anything to do with physician input.  Local doctors,
including those employed by Sutter Health and Sutter Coast, asked Mr. Cohill to
bring in a new CEO for our hospital last year, but Mr. Cohill took no action.  
I believe it is all of us in the community standing together that makes Sutter Health
 Our local elected leadership deserves credit for relaying your concerns
to statewide agencies. The local response has been universally positive, but in 
particular, Kathryn Murray and Kelly Schellong have been working with the City Council,
Roger Gitlin and Martha McClure with the County Supervisors, and Dwayne Reichlin
and Kevin Caldwell with the Healthcare District. Sheriff Dean Wilson and District
Attorney Jon Alexander have both written strong letters of support, and Richard 
Enea and Mike Sullivan each submitted recent letters on behalf of city and county
leadership.  The Director of the United Indian Health Services, representing seven
local Native American tribes, wrote an excellent Declaration in support of the litigation
opposing Sutter Health.  Most of all, the more than 2500 local residents who signed
our petition to oppose Sutter Health should know your voices are being heard.
  Next week, I will send a copy of the petition to state and federal representatives.

Here is the update on the litigation between the Healthcare District and Sutter 
You may recall that during the most recent hospital Board meeting, the Board
voted to "postpone" their efforts to transfer hospital ownership to Sutter Health.
But the Board did not rescind their three prior votes in favor of Regionalization,
nor did they agree to set aside litigation in the Court of Appeals, where Sutter
Health is trying to lower the Injunction that is blocking them from taking hospital
ownership or implementing Critical Access designation.

Next, some good news:  Based on letters of concern from community members, I was
contacted by the offices of State Senator Jim Nielsen, and U.S Congressman Jared
Huffman, who offered their support.  If you want to have a say in the future of 
healthcare in our region, please consider writing to Sen. Nielsen and Congressman
Huffman.  If you need help putting your thoughts on paper, send me an email at drgjduncan@yahoo.com  or call me at 707-465-1126.

Finally, the best news of all:  If we keep working together, something good will
come out of this struggle.  If we can expand and improve healthcare in our region,
every resident and visitor to our beautiful North Coast will benefit.
Thank you all again for your advice, support, and prayers.

Gregory J. Duncan, M.D.
Chief of Staff
Sutter Coast Hospital

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