SONOMA COUNTY: Group Makes Bid For Palm Drive Hospital
The West County Healthcare Foundation, an "ad hoc" community organization formed a month ago to save Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol from closing, announced Wednesday it plans to buy the hospital from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.. "The first thing we plan to do is ask for several weeks' extension of the deadline. We hope to get a ruling on that early next week," said foundation spokesperson Frank Mayhew. Columbia representative Chris Holden said his company should be receptive to an extension beyond the Jan. 13 deadline it set for closing the hospital. "If it can be demonstrated that a legitimate proposal is in the works, with solid funding behind it, yes, we would keep the hospital open," he said. The foundation estimates it will need about $1 million in cash for the deal, including $500,000 for consultants and legal fees and $600,000 "in working capital to keep the hospital in operation as the deal progresses." The hospital's price tag is $6 million. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports that the foundation has raised "about $50,000, mostly from the West County medical community." Mayhew said, "We do have some deep pockets out here in the West County, and we hope they'll come through, but the biggest part of this will come from a grass-roots effort. We think people will respond."
Change In Tempo
Current hospital administration, as well as the foundation, believes Palm Drive's best chance for long-term success is to scale back the capacity of the hospital and reduce its services. By next week, "administrators expect to have the number of beds reduced to about 15 and staffing reduced by about 30%." CEO Dru Cavanaugh said, "That accomplishes two things. It gives an accurate reflection of what the census is at the hospital, and it gives employees an opportunity to look for work elsewhere." Mayhew added, "We think a 15-bed acute care facility looks feasible, and we're hoping when we present our business model to the banks, they'll agree" (12/17). Click here for previous coverage of the hospital.