SONOMA COUNTY: Columbia Sells Palm Drive Hospital
Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol, CA, is being sold by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. to Brentwood, TN-based Community Health Systems, according to a letter of intent signed by both parties Tuesday. "We are pleased to add Palm Drive to our growing network of hospitals," said Community President and CEO Wayne Smith. He added, "We look forward to working with the physicians and residents in the area to help grow the services at Palm Drive and help the community adapt to the ever-changing health care environment" (Columbia release, 5/12). This news, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports, comes just a week after Columbia announced it also is selling Healdsburg General Hospital. The sale "effectively ends Columbia's fitful three-year tenure in Sonoma County."
No Big Deal
While neither Columbia nor Community "would divulge details" of Palm Drive's sale, the Press Democrat reports that Community has no plans to make any "major changes" to the 49-bed acute-care facility. Phyllis Phelps, Palm Drive's nursing supervisor, said, "Most of the feedback I've heard from employees has been positive." While Palm Drive has seen its ownership change hands three times previously, CEO Jeff Frandsen said, "I think [Community] is the most committed to keeping and improving local health care at its hospitals. They specialize in managing small hospitals that serve non-metropolitan areas. They know what they're doing." Likewise, Community thinks the partnership is a good fit. "The overwhelming factor that convinced us that Sebastopol was our kind of hospital was the interest the community shows in their hospital. The loyalty of the medical staff and the board was very strong. That's what swayed us," said Community's head of acquisitions, Bob Hardison. He also said his company is reknown for not making huge changes in the hospitals it purchases. "People in our communities don't even know that we're here. We don't come in and change the names or bring in our own people," he said. According to the Press Democrat, Community is working to expand its West Coast holdings, "buying or building small hospitals in Watsonville, Barstow, Fallbrook in Southern California and in towns in Utah, Arizona and Texas" (Lauer, 5/13).