Sutter Health is classified as a tax exempt charity, yet operates outside of public view as if it were a "for profit" corporation. Sutter is nationally recognized for its profiteering, huge increases in executive pay, and charges for care that are up to 60% over market averages. If you are tired of overpriced health care, skyrocketing health insurance premiums, and increasing out of pocket costs, please join our effort by contacting Dr. Greg Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Latest News on the Future of Sutter Coast Hospital
Latest News on the Future of Sutter Coast Hospital
July 15, 3013
write to separate facts from rhetoric concerning Sutter Health and
Sutter Coast Hospital (SCH). Currently, SCH remains locally owned, and
governed by a local Board. In 2011, the hospital Board voted to
"Regionalize" SCH, which will dissolve themselves as the governing body,
and transfer hospital ownership and governance to a Sutter Board in San
Francisco. Under Regionalization, decisions which are currently made
locally will be made in the Bay Area.
Why is Sutter Health fighting so hard to own Sutter Coast?
originally told our hospital Board that Regionalization was needed to
increase efficiency in an era of decreasing payments. However, former
hospital CEO Eugene Suksi later reportedthat
Sutter's strategies for improved efficiency, such as outsourcing local
jobs and purchasing supplies in bulk, are already in place and do not
require Regionalization. The main force behind Regionalization appears
to be control. Now, our hospital Board has the right to negotiate with
companies other than Sutter Health to manage the hospital. Under
Regionalization, we lose ownership of SCH, and management will be
decided by a Sutter appointed Board, which meets 350 miles away and controls 11 hospitals in the Region.
What would "Critical Access" designation mean for us?
first major decision facing SCH is whether to downsize the hospital by
50% to qualify for increased Medicare payments under the federal
Critical Access program. Sutter Health's 2012 study on Critical Access
concluded with the following statement: "we believe the Hospital should pursue the Critical Access Hospital program."
The same study estimated that under Critical Access designation, 247
patients would have required emergency transfers from Crescent City to
outside hospitals in 2011.
Lakeside, a hospital of similar size to SCH, Regionalization and
Critical Access designation were followed by massive job losses, closure
of two clinics, and a 150% increase in emergency patient transfers.
Why does a charity operate in secret?
When the local hospital Board voted to dissolve themselves, they
did so without looking at options, such as affiliation with Asante
Health System, which operates three hospitals in southern Oregon.
Asante has publicly expressed an interest in our hospital, but to my
knowledge no one on the hospital Board other than me has approached Asante. Now, after intense public criticism of their secrecy, SCH is paying a consulting firm $170,000 to evaluate strategies, including Critical Access. However, Sutter Health controls the study, after refusing outside funding from three charitable foundations. The consulting firm is not permitted to audit the hospital financial records or make any recommendations--they are allowed only to list options for the hospital Board, which already voted to Regionalize SCH.
disturbing aspect of this process is the hospital Board's refusal to
include the public, beginning with their 2011 vote to Regionalize SCH,
cast in a closed Board room at the deliberate exclusion of interested
parties. Hospital Chief of Staff Kevin Caldwell, M.D. objected to the
Board's Regionalization vote, noted that they did not understand the
transfer of ownership, and asked for more time to study the issue.
Nevertheless, the Board voted to Regionalize over his objection. The hospital
Board meeting minutes, hospital financial data, and even the membership
and discussions of the current "steering committee" on the hospital
study, all remain secret.
Board has not held a single public forum since their decision 20 months
ago to transfer SCH ownership to Sutter Health. Last month, the
hospital CEO and Board Chair abruptly withdrew from a Town Hall event
they had committed to attend. No observers are permitted to attend
Board meetings. The Board Chair will not allow community letters of
concern to be discussed in the Board room.
week, The Joint Commission, a national accreditation agency which
certifies hospitals, validated physician concerns that the SCH Board had
inappropriately excluded physicians from hospital policies, in
violation of our bylaws. SCH leadership received four Joint Commission
citations for failing to address physician concerns regarding
SCH is a
locally owned public benefit charity, with a monopoly over local
hospital care and the privilege of tax exemption. Sutter Health, and
the SCH Board, are making decisions which will affect the lives of
41,000 people within the hospital's service area.
Given the level of public concern, is
it not appropriate for Sutter to release the documents the public needs
to understand this issue? Why does Sutter continue to operate behind
closed doors, hold secret meetings, and withhold critical information
this community needs for our long term planning?
I applaud the
County Supervisors for asking Sutter to release this information.
Let's end the secrecy. With Sutter Health's approval, I will make all
the documents available on our website at www.crescentcityhospital.blogspot.com,
including a link to the audio recording where Sutter Health Regional
President Mike Cohill discusses Sutter's program to outsource jobs, and
confirms that SCH is still a locally owned corporation. Printed
information, and a petition opposing Sutter's plans, are available at my
office on 1200 Marshall St. To receive future newsletters, please send
me an email at email@example.com.
appreciate the support from everyone who has joined our effort to stop
Sutter Health, and preserve a locally owned, full service hospital.