A Major Victory But Not an End to the Sutter Conflict
The Past: On December 5, 2013, the Sutter Coast Hospital Board voted, over my objection, to downsize Sutter Coast to a Critical Access facility.
The Present: This week, hospital CEO Mitch Hanna confirmed he had sent a request to the State of California, asking to withdraw Sutter Coast's Critical Access application. Mr. Hanna also confirmed Sutter Coast registered multimillion dollar profits again in 2015, after Sutter's "independent study" and former CEO Linda Horn had foretold of heavy losses through 2018. As so many in our community have told me, Sutter can cook its books any way they wish, because hospital Board meetings and financial records are kept secret. At the same time, Sutter Coast is granted a "hardship" tax exemption, claiming they are a charity.
Thanks to your efforts, Sutter's decisions to move hospital ownership out of Del Norte County and to downsize to Critical Access, have been stopped for now. Sutter told us we could not stop them, that we had no voice, that our community just didn't understand. You proved Sutter wrong.
The immediate threat of Critical Access designation has passed. However, Mr. Hanna made no promises that he would not implement Critical Access in the future. Here is why I opposed Critical Access:
--huge increases in out of pocket costs to local Medicare patients
--closure of 50% of the acute care hospital beds
--restriction on how long patients may stay in the hospital
--mandatory patient transfers to outside hospitals
--nationwide, Critical Access hospitals have been shown to have higher death rates for patients with pneumonia, heart failure, heart attack, and following elective surgery.
The future: My next focus will be on Sutter's high charges for care, which result from their statewide monopoly and high income needs of their multimillion dollar executives and attorneys.
Sutter's high charges drive up your insurance premiums and harm our public employees, teachers, individuals, and small and large businesses. Statewide, Sutter's charges have been found to be up to 60% over market averages, while its executive pay has skyrocketed. This injustice must end.
Please send me your thoughts to email@example.com, and tune in to a recent radio interview on KCIW, available by podcast, tablet, or smartphone at: http://kciw.org/sutter-
Gregory J. Duncan, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Orthopedic Surgery