Attorney General’s Office Hosts Public Hearing on Sutter-Mercy Merger
Gathering input on the proposed merger of Sutter Merced Medical Center and Catholic Healthcare West's Mercy Hospital, Attorney General Bill Lockyer's (D) office hosted a public hearing last night, the
Modesto Bee reports. Under the proposal, Mercy would operate both hospitals until it builds a new facility, which is expected to open in 2007. Most of the hearing's participants favored the merger, "as long as there is no decrease in services," the Bee reports. However, the merger has "raised questions" about what services will be available, particularly reproductive health services. John Headding, Mercy's chief administrative officer, said, "We truly believe there will be no change in the services available. We don't feel (reproductive services) are in jeopardy of discontinuation" (Mello, Modesto Bee, 1/18). Union representatives also have expressed concern about how the merger will affect unionized Sutter employees, whose contract ends Feb. 27. Under the merger, Sutter cannot negotiate with employees without Mercy's approval (Mello, Modesto Bee, 1/17). The Merced County Board of Supervisors approved the merger in November, but Lockyer's approval is necessary to proceed. At last night's hearing, Supervisor Jerry O'Banion read a statement asking Lockyer to approve the merger (Modesto Bee, 1/18). Lockyer has until Feb. 15 to make a decision, although he has the option of extending that deadline 45 days (Modesto Bee, 1/17).