Thursday, October 31, 2013

The facts behind Sutter Health's media blitz in Crescent City

Subject: The future of hospital care in our region
Sutter Health's Media Blitz is Oncoming
October 31, 2013
Dear Fellow Residents of Del Norte and Curry Counties:
This coming week, Sutter Health will release its long awaited "independent" study on Sutter Coast Hospital.  This newsletter will provide some balance and background to Sutter's public relations campaign.

I am writing this update on the future of Sutter Coast Hospital because the hospital Board of Directors, of which my husband Dr. Greg Duncan is a member, voted to censure Greg for allegedly releasing confidential information outside the Board room.  Sutter Health and the hospital Board refuse to provide any written specific charges or evidence to support their allegations, so until we understand the implications of the censure, I will be writing newsletters.
Sutter Health is now beginning its final push to take ownership of Sutter Coast Hospital.  As Sutter's public relations blitz begins, please remember these facts:  (1) Sutter Coast Hospital is now owned and governed locally.  Regionalization is a change in ownership and governance.  If we Regionalize, local ownership and governance will be lost, and all future hospital decisions will be made by a Sutter-appointed board in San Francisco.    (2) Under Critical Access Hospital designation, 24 of our 49 inpatient beds would be closed.  If Critical Access is implemented here, people will be transferred elsewhere as a result of the restriction in hospital bed count.  People who have conditions that could be treated locally will be transferred to distant hospitals.  (3) The Healthcare District lawsuit had nothing to do with hospital ownership--it was an effort to hold Sutter Health accountable to its promises to provide expanded care and maintain a local hospital Board, in exchange for the monopoly privilege of operating the only hospital in the county. The lawsuit was settled when the cost became prohibitive for the District's small budget. What the settlement did prove is which side had more money.

But the lawsuit bought our community precious time to become educated on these issues.

The statement in today's newspaper that Sutter Coast Hospital is the rightful property of Sutter Health is meaningless.  Sutter Coast Hospital has always been locally owned and governed. Regionalization is a change in ownership--if Sutter Health already owned the hospital, they would not have needed to ask the the local Board to vote for Regionalization.

During a recorded meeting on 8/2/12, Sutter Health Sr. Vice President Mike Cohill stated to our hospital Board and Medical Staff that Sutter Coast Hospital owns Sutter Coast Hospital.  In 2006, Sutter Health Vice President Brian Hunter declared to the Alameda County Superior Court, "Sutter Health does not own any hospitals," adding, "Sutter Health's function is to provide support to the affiliated hospitals.  Absent a specific grant of authority from a hospital corporation, Sutter Health is not authorized to act on behalf of the hospitals..." [Case no. RG05221764]

As you review the results of the hospital study, please consider the following:

(1) The soon to be released "independent" study on the future of the hospital was coordinated and funded by Sutter.

(2) The independent funding for the study withdrew their support over concerns that the study results had been predetermined in favor of Sutter Health.

(3) The local "Steering Committee" was chosen not by the hospital Board, nor by an open invitation for community participation, but by an undisclosed process controlled by Sutter Health.

(4) The study consultants performed no independent financial analysis, but instead relied on financial data provided by Sutter Health.

(5) Sutter required local residents on the Steering Committee to sign a confidentiality agreement.  Greg will not sign an agreement which prevents him from sharing information on the future of the hospital with the public.

Now, let's review a point of agreement with Sutter Health:  our local hospital has been in decline.  The decline is understandable, given the fact that Sutter Health has shifted its focus to healthcare delivery in urban areas.

Does it make sense to transfer hospital ownership to San Francisco, or should we engage partners who specialize in rural healthcare and operate in our region? 
Fortunately, three other hospital corporations are interested in serving our community.   Asante Health system (which operates Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Three Rivers Hospital in Grants Pass, and Ashland Community Hospital) has a proven track record of profitability and patient care excellence.  Asante would like to partner with this community.  

As you review Sutter Health's upcoming presentation and public relations efforts, please remember our community has three options:

(1) Continued local ownership and governance, with management by Sutter Health.

(2) "Regionalization"--change of ownership and governance to a San Francisco based Sutter Corporation.

(3) Affiliation with a new partner, such as Asante, which has publicly expressed an interest in a closer affiliation, specializes and excels in rural healthcare, and is in our region.

If you have questions, ideas, or would like to receive future newsletters, please email me at
Please feel free to post this email on social media, forward it to anyone you wish, or stop by our office on 1200 Marshall St. to add your name to the 3200 residents who have signed the petition opposing Regionalization.  We also need more volunteers in Crescent City and Brookings to help distribute newsletters to those without internet access!  Thank you all for your help and support.


Anne Marie Duncan, M.D.  

This email was sent to by  
Gregory J. Duncan, M.D. | 1200 Marshall St. | Crescent City | CA | 95531

1 comment:

  1. I was recently an inpatient at Crescent City Hospital.I spent 9 days total with 5 days in ICU.I must say the proffessional treatment I received was outstanding.For days before this event took place I would ride past the bill board sign on 101 coming into Crescent City,and read it."our lives depend on it"would strike my conscious with wonder,I could not imagine why anyone would consider closing a hospital as it is an absolute neccessity for all communities.
    Well let me say our lives depend on it hit very close to home since,basically I DIED,and the staff at the hospital brought me back to this life.You see my brain shut down and my lungs failed me,so 2 vital organs,my brain and my lungs quit.What would it have meant if this hospital was not available? I probably wouldn't be writing this or be even conscious to consider writing this.
    To any and all who are considering closing the hospital I can only think you personally will not be affected by its closing,you do not see it vital for your own personal well being,and you do not consider how it will damage this city and its people or even care.If you did consider you would dismiss these motives as pure selfish greed and would seek solutions to remedy the present problems that are motivating you to think so selfish.
    So lets consider for a few thoughts which offer economic increase for the hospital.
    First and foremost is like any business the more customers you have the more profitable you become.So to all of you folks who need excellent health care I for one as a patient state with pure honesty and for no personal gain this is the best hospital I have ever been treated in,and I have been in several for both minor and major reasons.The staff is well trained and understood how to lead me back to being capable of living again.They were friendly,informative,caring,genuine,and went way beyond their caring responsibility to meet my needs.
    To be honest with you a deep and loving affection has grown with in me towards all who worked with me in this hospital.
    So to anyone and everyone I appeal to you to consider this hospital as your first choice when in need of proffessional medical attention,trust me these people are so genuine in their practice and knowledgeable in how they proceed you will know as I have learned from experience being cared by them,this is the best team of medical proffessionals I have ever had experience with. So please help the hospital and by doing so also help Crescent Cities' economy by requesting their services when you are in need.You will be thankful you did this I promise and assure each of you reading this letter of appeal and thankfulness to all who reached me in time to save my life.