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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
California Medical Association and Medical Society Position Statement on Sutter Health's plans for hospital care in Del Norte County
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Today's newsletter regarding the
future of healthcare on California's north coast is provided by the
California Medical Association (CMA) and the Humboldt-Del Norte
County Medical Society, with an introduction by Mark H. Davis, a
urologist in Crescent City.
The CMA joins
local city and county opposition to Sutter Health's plans to downsize
and transfer ownership of locally owned Sutter Coast Hospital to
Sutter's Regional Corporation in San Francisco. Transfer of
community owned hospitals to Sutter's Regional corporations is a
statewide effort known as "Regionalization"--a fundamental
shift from community based hospitals to regionally owned hospital
groups. Future newsletters will show the link between
Regionalization and an increase in Sutter executive salaries and your
As Chairman of the Del Norte District of the
Humboldt-Del Norte Medical Society, past Trustee of the California
Medical Association, and the local urologist in Crescent City for the
past 21 years, it is my responsibility to share with you the Medical
Society/CMA policy statement on Sutter Health's activities in our
This statement discusses decisions by Sutter Health and
the Board of Sutter Coast Hospital ("SCH") to convert SCH
to a Critical Access facility, to transfer ownership of SCH out of our
community and into a Sutter controlled corporation in San Francisco,
and to end local authority over hospital governance, including
patient care policies and physician credentialing.
Please contact me with any comments or ideas on how we
can expand and improve access to affordable healthcare.
Mark H. Davis, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Urology
Public Statement by the California
Medical Association and Humboldt-Del Norte Medical Society
HUMBOLDT-DEL NORTE COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY
P.O. BOX 6457
EUREKA, CALIFORNIA 95502-6457
(707) 442-2367 * FAX (707) 442-8134
E-mail: hancms@sbcglobalmet * www.hdacms.org
May 21, 2014
To Whom It May Concern:
Since its founding in 1886, the Humboldt-Del Norte
County Medical Society has been a voice for physicians and their
patients in the rural communities of northwest California. The
medical society is aware of on-going controversial efforts by
Sutter Health Corporation to restructure the governance of Sutter
Coast Hospital and to convert it to a critical access hospital.
Serious concerns have been raised should Sutter Health follow
through with its plans.
The board of Sutter Coast Hospital has voted to accept a
"regionalization" plan imposed by Sutter Health
through which the hospital would fully merge into the Sutter Health
West Bay Region. The local hospital board would cede all
governing authority over Sutter Coast to a regional board that
sits roughly 350 miles away in San Francisco and oversees approximately
14 other health care facilities, all in the Bay Area.
Physicians, civic leaders and local citizens have expressed
opposition to "regionalization" and feel the local hospital
board made its decision without adequate input from Sutter
Coast's medical staff and community stakeholders. It is also
believed that the local hospital board and other
proponents of regionalization do not fully understand or
appreciate the consequences of giving up responsibility to oversee
the hospital and the importance of local control over governance
issues that affect the medical staff, such as oversight
authority on peer review, privileging and medical staff bylaws.
Independent review of the regionalization plan has also
raised red flags. An attorney retained by the medical staff at
Sutter Coast determined that regionalization would improperly usurp
the rights and duties of the medical staff and interfere with
its right of self-governance. Similarly, an attorney with the
California Medical Association expressed the opinion that the plan
to regionalize Sutter Coast Hospital has serious potential to
upset the proper balance between the medical staff and the
hospital governing board.
Strong local opposition forced Sutter Health to put its
restructuring plans on hold, but the hospital corporation
continues to push for final implementation of its regionalization
Sutter Health's efforts to restructure Sutter Coast also
has triggered a lawsuit by Beverly Hussey, whose late husband
donated the land on which the hospital sits to the county in 1988,
for use as an acute care hospital. Mrs. Hussey's lawsuit claims
that Sutter Health's desire to convert Sutter Coast to a
critical access hospital violates the conditions of her husband's
gift and would have a negative impact on the availability and
accessibility of medical care at the hospital.
The county medical society, along with the California
Medical Association backed by California law, strongly believes
that governance over Sutter Coast must prioritize local medical staff
self-governance and ensure adequate access to the highest possible
level of medical care. The citizens of Del Norte County deserve
nothing less. Sutter Health therefore must respect and fully address
the serious concerns that have been raised by local physicians
and citizens, who are legitimately questioning the wisdom and
legality of Sutter Health's efforts to regionalize Sutter Coast
and turn it into a critical access hospital.
John Mastroni, M.D.
John Nelson, M.D.
Humboldt-Del Norte County Medical Society
We appreciate the support of more than 3,000 local
residents who have signed a petition opposing Sutter's plans for our
region. If you would like to add your name, receive future
newsletters, or learn more, please stop by my office at 1200 Marshall
St., Crescent City, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your comments on how to improve and expand our region's
healthcare are also appreciated.