Emily Jo Cureton, The Triplicate

Council members haveconcerns aboutSutter Coast plan

The Crescent City Council has joined a growing list of local entities going on the record against the "regionalization" of Sutter Coast Hospital.

On Monday the council unanimously agreed to pen a letter in opposition to the controversial business plan. The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors did likewise back in June.

And 1,200 signatures to the same effect have been gathered by community organizers and a coalition of local doctors, who've decried regionalization as a corporate takeover, saying it will lead to fewer medical services being available in Del Norte.

That's one side of the story.

Meanwhile, another local doctor serving on the hospital's Board of Directors has called regionalization "a merger that may save the hospital" from financial ruin and closure.

Dr. Thomas Polidore is one of nine area residents charged with governing the hospital; all are appointed by Sutter Health, a non-profit private company that largely controls, but does not technically own affiliated hospitals.

Regionalization means incorporating Crescent City's hospital into a structure with five other hospitals and two medical foundations. There'd be a different board of directors, based in the Bay Area, and consolidated accounting.

Hospital officials have stressed that the proposed merger is a separate issue than the possible redesignation of Sutter Coast as a critical-access facility, which could result in a reduction of services available.

Regionalization is on hold by court order until Aug. 27, when a hearing will decide if the Del Norte County Health Care District's petition holds water.

Ten people filed declarations with the court in support of the district's petition to stop regionalization, including Health Care District representatives past and present, prominent physicians on the hospital's medical staff, the sheriff, the director of United Indian Health Service, a union representative writing on behalf of 354 Del Norte Unified School District employees, and a lawyer from the California Medical Association.

Meanwhile, two protest rallies have been held outside the hospital recently.

Reach Emily Jo Cureton at