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Candlelight vigil held for Palm Drive Hospital

Organizers Sunday were planning a midnight vigil at Sebastopol's Palm Drive Hospital as a show of support for doctors who vow to continue treating patients if the troubled facility is shut down.

The event was timed to what organizers believed was the facility's closure at midnight Sunday, according to Dan Smith, a former president of the hospital board and an organizer of the vigil.

However, Palm Drive CEO Thomas Harlan said Sunday night that the hospital is scheduled to close at noon Monday. He said some patients will still be there in the morning, and the emergency department will close in the afternoon.

He said staff will be taking inventory of pharmaceuticals and equipment. An ambulance also will be stationed outside the facility in case someone shows up unaware that it has closed.

Dr. Jim Gude, head of the hospital's intensive care unit, has vowed to keep the emergency department open after the hospital shuts down. Gude could not be reached for comment Sunday night.

Smith said the plan calls for treating patients who do not have life-threatening medical issues at the nearby offices of Dr. Richard Powers. Patients experiencing more serious problems will be transported to other facilities.

Smith said Sunday's candlelight vigil also was planned in hopes of pressuring the hospital's board into coming back to the negotiating table.


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