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Latest Information on Sutter's study regarding Sutter Coast Hospital
Kevin Caldwell and I just mailed the following letter to the Del Norte
County Board of Supervisors, as they consider their role in the future
of Sutter Coast Hospital. Sutter Health has hired a consultant group to
help the hospital Board decide whether or not to transfer hospital
ownership to Sutter Health, or cut Sutter Coast by 50% to qualify for
higher Medicare reimbursement under the federal Critical Access
Sutter Coast been a Critical Access facility, the hospital would have
been closed to new admissions the majority of days during the past eight
months. Patients needing a hospital bed would have been flown by air
ambulance, at their expense, to distant hospitals.
Dear Supervisors of Del Norte County:
write with an update on the status of the Sutter Coast Hospital
Strategic Options Study. This is a study about the future of Sutter
Coast Hospital (SCH), being conducted and paid for by Sutter Health,
using a consultant group (The Camden Group) with ongoing business
connections to Sutter Health. As you know, the Medical Staff passed a
unanimous resolution (among the physicians attending our Medical Staff
meeting) that prior to participation in any study, we would like our
concerns addressed with respect to the funding, design, and rights and
responsibilities of community participants. The physicians have received no response to our concerns from Sutter Health or the Board of Directors of SCH. We
have also confirmed with two community members familiar with the study
that outside funding remains available, as long as the study results are
not predetermined. However, Sutter Health Regional President Mike
Cohill and Sutter Health study coordinator Traci Van have rejected the
outside independent funding. Thus, although the hospital Board voted to
approve a collaboratively funded and independent study, the current
study is entirely Sutter funded and Sutter controlled.
You may also
recall that the Medical Staff has passed two unanimous resolutions
asking the hospital Board to rescind their prior vote to transfer
ownership of SCH to Sutter Health's West Bay Region. The Board of
Supervisors and City Council also asked the hospital Board to rescind
their Regionalization vote. In every case, the local hospital Board
refused to rescind their Regionalize vote, and in fact, the Board voted on 3/7/13 to leave the process of Regionalization in place.
claims SCH is losing money. In an attempt to verify Sutter's claims, I
(GJD) have made repeated requests during the last year to meet with the
hospital accountant, a meeting which is my right as a Director of SCH,
and which was promised by former SCH CEO Eugene Suksi. Mr. Suksi told
me that the accountant was the appropriate person to show me SCH
financial documents. Subsequently, Regional President Mike Cohill, Mr.
Suksi, and current interim SCH CEO Linda Horn have all blocked this
meeting, unless a Sutter Health employee is also present. Remember
Sutter Health does not own Sutter Coast, but they are attempting to take
Linda Horn has not responded to my requests to learn who has been
invited to participate on The Camden Group's "steering committee." The
SCH Board has not even discussed the concept of a steering committee,
much less discussed or approved the process by which community members
would be selected to participate on the committee. However, numerous
community members have told me they have received invitations to sit on a
steering committee related to Sutter Health's Strategic Options Study.
light of these facts, I would ask the Supervisors, and anyone else who
Sutter has invited to participate on the steering committee, to consider
Mandate that your participation in a hospital study be preceded by
Sutter Health releasing the meeting minutes and the financial data for
the hospital. We applaud Supervisor Finigan's call for Sutter Health to
release this information, but three weeks later, Sutter has released
nothing. Be aware that study of SCH financial data will require
considerable time by an independent accounting group with access to
detailed records, not just summary information provided by Sutter
Participate in the study only as it was originally designed and
approved by the hospital Board-with collaborative funding and an
independent consultant. Community participation at the outset would
ensure that the consultant candidates are selected and approved by the
community, not by Sutter Health, as was the case in the current study.
(Only 3 community members selected The Camden Group to perform the
study, after the first six local residents initially approached by the
hospital Board refused to participate, over concern the study was not
Sutter Health to stop using the word "independent" to describe the
current study. As pointed out by a community member who was asked to
participate on the steering committee, the current process is clearly
not independent and should not be described as such.
the Sutter hospital study on the Agenda for a special meeting of the
Board of Supervisors, to be held during the evening to allow maximum
community participation. You may not be aware that some of the
individuals who spoke in favor of Sutter Health during your 5/28/13
meeting, including SCH interim CEO Linda Horn, are employed by Sutter
Health, the corporation which is attempting to take ownership of locally
owned Sutter Coast Hospital.
please consider the motivation behind the two sides of this conflict.
Sutter Health is attempting to take ownership of SCH. It has become
increasingly clear that Sutter Health wants to downsize Sutter Coast
Hospital in order to receive higher payments for the treatment of
Medicare patients. If Sutter Health will allow me to release the audio
recording of Mike Cohill, Sutter Health Sr. Vice President, you will
hear information which supports this contention. The local
hospital Board and Sutter Health have not responded to the physicians'
resolution to expand services to improve the hospital, nor to our "no
confidence" vote in Critical Access designation at Sutter Coast.
believe very strongly that Critical Access designation will harm the
economic development and the residents and visitors in Del Norte and
Curry counties, especially the elderly, poor and chronically ill.