Performance of Sonoma County Health Care Industry Improves, Report Says
The health care industry's contribution to the Sonoma County economy is at a 20-year high, according to an annual report conducted for the county Economic Development Board, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The report, by Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Economy.com, found that 2004 was one of the health services industry's "best years" in Sonoma County, following three years of "weak revenue and profit growth."
"The improving fortunes of the Sonoma County health care industry are demonstrated by the flush of new investment and expansion activity in the industry locally," the report stated. For example, Kaiser Permanente is spending $180 million on an 82-bed hospital expansion, a new medical office building and a parking garage in the county, the report said.
In addition, the report noted that increased prices for medical services and cost-containment measures had contributed to increased profits at local hospitals. According to state data, profit margins at hospitals in Sonoma County increased from 3.64% in 2003 to 4.07% in 2004, the report stated.
According to the report, health insurance premiums in Sonoma County have increased by about 10% in each of the past four years.
The report concludes that the health care industry is prepared to meet increasing demand for services from a wealthier and older-than-average population in Sonoma County (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 4/19).