Rural California hospital 'defying gravity' as it changes strategy to survive

Cash-strapped Sonoma Valley Hospital faces the same issues as many rural hospitals, including a disproportionate share of Medicaid and Medicare funding and a lower number of privately insured patients. But the California hospital is managing to defy gravity and remain open with some savvy strategizing, the North Bay Business Journal reports.

One cost-cutting move was closing the hospital's obstetrics department last October. The hospital also transferred ownership of home care service for free to Larkspur, Calif.-based Hospice by the Bay.

And an ad-hoc task force is studying a third potential cost-saving measure: whether to close its skilled nursing facility.

Outside of cost-cutting moves, the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation announced in November that it would undertake a $20 million fundraising campaign to build an outpatient diagnostic center for the hospital.

On Jan. 14, Sonoma Valley Hospital CEO Kelly Mather told the Sonoma City Council that the foundation had raised $15.5 million, the Journal reported. The hospital projects the diagnostic center will increase net revenue by about $1.5 million annually partially because physicians won't have to refer patients to other locations for advanced diagnostic care.

In other efforts, Sonoma Valley Hospital last year finalized an affiliation with San Francisco-based UCSF Health to create an integrated health care network that will serve Sonoma Valley residents. 

Access the North Bay Journal's full report here.


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