SONOMA COUNTY: Santa Rosa Memorial And North Coast Health Care Announce Merger
"Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and North Coast Health Care Centers have reached an agreement to merge, ending six months of negotiations between the county's largest and third-largest hospitals," the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. Under the arrangement, North Coast's seven patient centers that specialize in psychiatric care, and rehabilitation will fall under Memorial's umbrella. The deal puts Memorial in control of 454 beds in Sonoma County, "more than 2 1/2 times its closest rival, Sutter Medical Center." Following the merger, North Coast will convert from for-profit to nonprofit, like Memorial. However, North Coast will maintain its "autonomy" with "virtually no other changes." The Press-Democrat reports that financial details of the agreement were not released. Robert Fish, president and CEO of Santa Rosa Memorial, however, said the hospital "might, over time" attempt to gain full ownership of North Coast in an effort to "provide a seamless continuum of services in the community."
The deal also puts Memorial in enviable position to bid for the "coveted designation as the county's trauma center." Fish said, "By virtue of our affiliation, we can offer broader service than we could previously if we are chosen as the trauma center for the county." Sutter has teamed up with Kaiser Permanente Hospital to compete with Santa Rosa Memorial for the trauma center designation. The county will not reach a decision on the matter until early next year. Daniel Marrin, one of North Coast's original founders, said that "despite the surge in patient numbers ... the burden of running the third largest hospital in the county and changes in health insurance industry have made it difficult for him to continue" (Lii, 8/19). Click here for previous CHL coverage of the North Coast-Memorial merger.