Del Norte Triplicate Readers

Sutter, board,doctors should rethink, seek common ground

Sutter Coast Hospital's Board chairman gave community members at the Town Hall Meeting a handout explaining why the board voted for regionalization last November. Regionalization would dismantle our local Board of Trustees and turn our governance over to folks in the San Francisco and Santa Rosa area. But what's written on Sutter Coast's home page makes more sense to me: "... Our local governance structure means critical health care decisions are made by experts in our community who can respond to the local health and community needs.

Here's how I read the board's rationale:

1) Sutter Health Organization ("Mother Sutter") is a strong partner and makes Sutter Coast a better hospital.

2) We should be grateful that we are a Sutter affiliate. We should not jeopardize that relationship because without "Mother Sutter" we wouldn't have the money to buy things.

3)If we don't join a region, the leaders at "Mother Sutter" in Sacramento will forget about us because we are so small and far away.

4)We should give up our local governance because it will save "Mother Sutter" money.

5) Sutter Coast Hospital cannot stand alone, won't make it through these uncertain economic times unless we join the region of five hospitals in the S.F./Santa Rosa area, the West Bay Region.

6)If we join the region, all the doctors and specialists we desperately need in our area will come here from the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation to work for us.

7) Regionalization could offer Sutter Coast patients better, affordable health care because the hospital would become more efficient through better coordination and collaboration with less duplication and less variation.

I don't fully understand their last reason, but think it means if the hospital would join the West Bay Region, "Mother Sutter" could have a better chance to continue making money even during uncertain economic times.

Could it really just be time to stop and rethink what's happening here?Maybe "Mother Sutter" and the hospital Board members (three already work for Sutter Health) could sit down again, this time with the local Health Care District and some community members (like they did when Sutter first came to our town!) and come to some realistic understanding of what our local community needs in terms of health care as we go forward.

Roxie Hazard

Crescent City