Sequoia Hospital, Palo Alto Medical Foundation Plan Separate Redwood City Facilities
Catholic Healthcare West's Sequoia Hospital and Sutter Health's Palo Alto Medical Foundation both are planning to build hospitals in Redwood City or neighboring San Carlos, but the area has an "already crowded market" that might not be able to support both new facilities, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The area's population is expected to grow by just 1% to 2% per year. The medical groups are "vying for hospital supremacy" in the community, and each is "vowing they won't back down," according to the Chronicle. On April 19, Sequoia is scheduled to unveil its plans to rebuild its aging Redwood City facility. By mid-April, Palo Alto expects to choose a site for its facility about three miles from Sequoia's hospital. If both proceed with their plans and open facilities in about five years, the "battle is likely to hinge on who can keep and attract more patients," according to the Chronicle. Palo Alto would need to double the 50,000 area patients it treats to be successful, according to hospital foundation President Dr. David Druker. Palo Alto had secured an exclusive working agreement with Sequoia's cardiovascular and cardiology group, which was rated the top team in the state in 2003, because Sequoia was "drag[ging] its heels on its reconstruction project," according to Dr. Vince Guadiani, one of the heart group's leaders, the Chronicle reports. The foundation also plans to recruit more physicians by offering them the chance to form medical groups to share profits and resources, and it has installed a computerized medical records database system. Glenna Vaskelis, Sequoia's president and hospital administrator, said Sequoia is "well prepared to recruit new doctors" and plans to unveil its own computer records database when the new facility opens, according to the Chronicle. San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill, who appointed a task force last year to examine whether the county can support both facilities, said, "My fear is also that these hospitals will have to make money through only providing the services that bring in the greatest amount of money -- and that will affect other public hospitals and facilities that will have to pick up the remaining services" (Kim, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.