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Health District, hospital have more they can do

In light of the recent meetings, blogs, guest opinions, letters to the editor and general public discussion regarding the plans of Sutter Health to regionalize our local hospital, I felt compelled to discuss the issue and hopefully provide some much-needed clarification as to the involvement and position of the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

At the request of doctors Greg Duncan and Kevin Caldwell, the Board of Supervisors has considered the potential impacts of a possible regionalization and designation of Sutter Coast Hospital as a Critical Access facility. After considering the information provided and available, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to support the doctors and the Health Care District in its opposition to regionalization and Critical Access designation.

The Board of Supervisors followed up with letters demanding the disclosure of information being held by Sutter Health and the local Hospital Board to allow for a full and accurate discussion of the decisions being made behind closed doors.

To reiterate, the County Board of Supervisors has from the beginning opposed any designation of Sutter Coast Hospital that would negatively impact our residents.

Recently, the Board of Supervisors and the Health Care District conducted a “two-by-two” meeting between the appointed committee members to discuss the settlement of a lawsuit brought forward against Sutter Health by the Health Care District.

This meeting, typical of all two-by-two meetings, was an information-gathering process that ultimately results in the committee members being tasked with reporting back to their respective boards. By law, no decisions may be made during these meetings.

The meeting was, in my opinion, very successful as it resulted in the community being made aware of the existing status of the lawsuit and allowed both entities to discuss the issue face to face. Unfortunately, one of the Health Care District representatives intimated at the meeting that the Health Care District had exhausted its remedies and is now out of options, and any further actions would be up to the Board of Supervisors.

I would respectfully disagree.

The Del Norte Health Care District, once called the Hospital District, is a special district with an elected Board that is tasked with managing real estate holdings, leases (like the Sutter Coast Hospital lease), health care contracts and forming organizations to support a wide range of community-based health and wellness facilities and activities.

As you can see, the Health Care District is the elected Board that is assigned to address a variety of issues within the health care field and to represent the county residents. The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors, representing these same residents, has fully supported the Health Care District and those that oppose regionalization and a designation of Critical Access and hope that the Health Care District continues to lead this fight.

It is my personal goal to continue to represent my constituents by staying involved in this issue that is so vital to our community and do whatever possible to encourage Sutter Health to be forthcoming with data and other information that will allow our community a voice in any decisions that will be made that impact our hospital.

I take this opportunity to respectfully request that the Del Norte Health Care District continue to lead this fight, and furthermore ask that Sutter Health step up to the plate and be responsible to our community and the people who will be most significantly impacted by their decisions.

Anything less than full disclosure of records, data and information required to clearly outline the issues and decisions is a failure on the part of Sutter Health and demonstrates a complete lack of responsibility toward our community.

I believe our community should and will be heard, but it will take a cooperative effort of involvement by many to be successful.

Michael Sullivan represents District 3 on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

 

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