SUMMIT MEDICAL CENTER: To Join Sutter Health
Summit Medical Center, Oakland's largest independent, not-for-profit hospital, announced yesterday that it will join Sutter Health System. The affiliation will involve the combination of Summit Medical Center and Alta Bates Medical Center into a new East Bay region. Summit had considered merger proposals from Sutter, Tenet Healthcare Corp., Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., and Catholic Healthcare West (release, 3/26). The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the "alliance would give [Summit officials] more clout in negotiating with health insurers, cost savings in purchasing supplies and the ability to develop certain areas of specialty as part of a coordinated regional hospital network" (Russell, 3/27). Irwin Hansen, president and CEO of Summit Medical Center, said the merger would also enable them to "remain Oakland's largest not-for-profit hospital" (release, 3/26).
Summit/Sutter So Great?
The Chronicle reports that critics of the union point "to the often rocky relationships Sutter has had in communities whose hospitals it has acquired." Sal Rosselli, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 250, said "Sutter's record of labor relations is poor" and that it's a "bad idea for a community hospital to go with Sutter." Sutter spokesperson Bill Gleeson responded that SEIU is "taking pot shots" at them because the hospital system "has yet to come to terms with the organization on a number of labor contracts." Moreover, Summit spokesperson Nancy Happel said "the hospital board is very happy with Sutter." "Oakland and the Bay Area deserve well-run medical facilities. We want to combine our operating strengths with Sutter's financial and strategic strengths," Happel said. "It is very important to join a system that has the same philosophy and mission" (3/27). Sutter said it has committed to providing the levels of charity care historically provided to the community by Summit and said it will conduct an annual community needs assessment which would include a detailed review of ethnic health support needs. Sutter also said it has agreed to honor all current Summit labor contracts. The deal requires approval from the Federal Trade Commission; the process is expected to be completed by the end of 1998 (Summit release, 3/26).