The saga that is Palm Drive Hospital has gone on for some time, but it can't continue. The gatekeepers for the Sebastopol facility made that clear Tuesday night.
The bottom line is that the hospital is low on patients, high on debt and on course to run out of money by the end of the month. It's a perfect storm of problems for a community hospital that's already had to seek protection from creditors once before, in 2007.
Now it's headed down that road again.
The Palm Drive Health Care District board voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. It's the first step toward closing the Sebastopol hospital's emergency room with the hope of keeping the rest of the facility open in some capacity.
But the sense of those from the public on what should happen was far from unanimous.
Many, including hospital employees, applauded when the board put off until Monday a plan to close the emergency room. But that may just be delaying the inevitable.
Opponents of closure say the extra days will give the public more time to voice their concerns. We're in favor of people sharing their opinions. Words like disappointing, maddening, maybe even life-threatening, are appropriate at a time like this.
But words are not going to change the facts — nor are they going to alter the realities of the health care environment that make it difficult for a hospital like Palm Drive to survive.
Here are the facts:
; The number of patients treated at the hospital has fallen dramatically. The hospital is licensed for 37 beds. Its budget is built on the expectation of filling 12 beds. But Palm Drive is averaging less than nine patients a day.