Running a hospital and working in health care can be extremely rewarding and at times difficult and challenging. In the short time I've been at Sutter Coast Hospital, I find myself inspired every day by the caring and compassionate nature of our employees, physicians and volunteers.

I have spent a tremendous amount of my time and energy sharing transparent and factual information about the challenges facing Sutter Coast Hospital now and in the future under Health Care Reform with community members and leaders.

Sutter Coast Hospital has recently begun a Strategic Options Study at the request of the Hospital Board. Because of the many questions surrounding our Strategic Options Study, I want to share some facts about the process.

The study is being conducted by The Camden Group, a nationally known health care consulting firm. It was selected to conduct the study by a group of independent community members - Dr. Warren Rehwaldt, Jan Moorehouse and Ted Fitzgerald, who devoted time to reviewing proposals and interviewing potential firms.

The Camden Group is utilizing a Steering Committee approach within the study process for Sutter Coast. It has done this in many other communities where it has conducted similar studies to foster engagement and dialogue. While the Board of Directors maintains decision-making authority, the Committee, which is comprised of 14 members, is actively engaged with primary responsibilities including:

andbull; Review, interpretation and validation of findings.

andbull; Sharing knowledge of the local health care environment.

andbull; Providing feedback to the Board on strategic options.

andbull; Reconciling information from local conversations, with quantitative and qualitative analyses performed by The Camden Group.

andbull; Evaluating strategic options for consideration by the Hospital Board of Directors.

This will be an interactive process for the committee members including different stages throughout the process where representatives will have direct interaction with the Sutter Coast Hospital Board of Directors.

Committee participants were selected based on:

andbull; Depth and breadth of knowledge of the local health care environment.

andbull; Representation of community health stakeholder groups.

andbull; Willingness to objectively evaluate findings/options that result from the engagement and participate in collaborative discussions in committee meetings.

At the request of those who have agreed to serve on the Steering Committee, we have committed to keeping their identities confidential so as to allow them to discuss and consider information presented without outside influence. We are truly fortunate to have the people who have committed and we will honor their request for discretion.

Participants include leaders who have proven themselves to be committed to the success of our entire community are currently from various groups including: health care professionals, civic leaders, Hospital Auxiliary, local business owners and more.

It is the expectation of The Camden Group that members of the Steering Committee have a depth of knowledge and experience about Sutter Coast Hospital and/or its local environment. Although The Camden Group will analyze and assess the needs, gaps and strategic options for the Hospital and the local community, it will rely on the knowledge and insight of the Steering Committee to provide local, first-hand insight on the information presented throughout the course of the engagement.

Results of the study will be shared publicly once The Camden Group determines that the various study pieces are in place to present a complete picture to the staff and community.

The Steering Committee is just part of the process. The Camden Group is conducting a number of in-person and phone interviews; a community survey will be mailed to approximately 4,000 local households; and a retreat is planned with members of the Steering Committee and the Sutter Coast Hospital Board of Directors. Additionally, The Camden Group is analyzing the Hospital's financial performance, historical trends and more.

Our goal remains ensuring Sutter Coast Hospital is able to meet the health care needs of our community now and in the future.

Linda Horn is interim chief executive officer at Sutter Coast Hospital.