SONOMA COUNTY: Local Groups Get Tentative Okay From Columbia On Healdsburg Hospital Deal
"Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. reached a tentative agreement Wednesday to sell Healdsburg General Hospital to a local nonprofit group ... when northern Sonoma County's only hospital was threatened with closure," the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. After Columbia told the community that the hospital would be sold if its losses could not be stemmed, the North County Hospital Association, the community group formed in March to save the hospital, created Nuestro Hospital Inc. in order to purchase the Sonoma County hospital. The hospital is expected to lose almost $2 million this year. The North County Hospital Association wants to save the facility because it employs 339 people and pays large sums in taxes and utilities, putting almost $3.5 million into the local economy every year. City Manager Chet Wystepek, however, said the economic cost of losing the hospital could be much greater. "The hospital is ringed with medical offices and clinics and other services linked to health care. They all could be affected," he said.
On The Table
While the facility is worth an estimated $6.5 million, "[s]ources familiar with the negotiations said Nuestro's bid was less than $6 million." Nuestro Hospital President Dan Rose said, "We don't own it yet. But this is the first step. ... In addition to the two legal teams working things out, there are a lot of regulatory issues involved. In a lot of ways, our work is just beginning." According to Mary Schwind, CEO of Healdsburg General, a "letter of intent" with Columbia has been signed. Cathy Harvey, mayor of Healdsburg, said, "I'm thrilled. They still have a lot of work to do. I'll stop holding my breath when it's all said and done" (Lauer, 5/7).