Consulting firm chosen for Sutter Coast study

Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Will assess hospital's options with Sutter Health

A consulting firm has been chosen to conduct the study that might guide the future of Crescent City's hospital.

The Camden Group was selected Tuesday to conduct a "strategic options study" for the Sutter Coast Hospital Board of Directors.

The study will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of several options for the hospital's future, including making no changes; affiliating with another health-care system; moving to a freestanding status; or remaining with Sutter Health while pursuing alternative business strategies.

Alternatives with Sutter Health could include pursuing joint ventures, reconfiguring services and/or developing service lines, identifying alternative rural funding or downsizing in order to qualify for Critical Access Hospital designation, which allows hospitals to collect cost-based reimbursement from Medicare, instead of standard fixed reimbursement rates.

"Sutter Coast Hospital has cared for this community for the past 20 years, and as a Board we are committed to making sure it's here to take care of our children's children and beyond," said Ken Hall, Sutter Coast Hospital Board Chair, in a press release. "The health care environment is as challenging as it's ever been, and valuable information from this study will help us make informed decisions for the hospital."

The study was proposed by the hospital board in December as a solution to the community's opposition to the hospital board's attempt to dissolve itself, transferring ownership of the hospital to Sutter Health.

"Since 1970, The Camden Group has been providing management and consulting services to the healthcare industry exclusively, assisting more than 2,000 healthcare organizations nationwide," the firm describes itself on its website.

Three community members,Warren Rehwaldt, Jan Moorehouse and Ted Fitzgerald, conducted conference-call interviews with the potential firms on May 15 and 16 to vet the firms.

On May 14, the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors declined to help select the firm out of concerns that the study could be perceived as biased since Sutter Health will be funding it.

At least five other community members asked to help select the firm declined, some due to concerns of bias and others due to scheduling conflicts.

Reach Adam Spencer at .

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