The Palm Drive Hospital board will begin negotiating exclusively with Marin General Hospital a possible affiliation that would expand both health care networks.

The 4-0 vote Monday to go with Marin General comes after the Palm Drive board received a number of proposals from health care providers, including St. Joseph Health System of Sonoma County and St. Helena Hospital, part of the Adventist Health system headquartered in Roseville, Calif.

Affiliation with Marin General would mean that Palm Drive would join an expanding network of doctors and district hospitals in Marin County and Sonoma County.

Last year, Marin General and the Marin-Sonoma Individual Practice Association, or IPA, formed a nonprofit medical foundation that contracts with the growing Prima Medical Group.

This growing network is one of the main reasons Palm Drive chose Marin General, said Palm Drive board president Nancy Dobbs. The goal of the collaboration is not to be absorbed by Marin General but rather to become part of a larger health care network.

"They are not trying to build a network of hospitals,"said Dobbs. "What they're trying to do is strengthen the capacity of the health care system as it exists in the North Bay right now."

The affiliation between Marin General Hospital and Palm Drive would be similar to that existing with Marin General and the Sonoma Valley Healthcare District. As proposed, the partnership would provide management services, management support and access to Prima Medical Group doctors.

Dobbs said representatives from Marin General will be visiting Palm Drive within the next couple of weeks to lay out "their vision" for how the two hospitals can work together.

Adventist Health recently pulled its proposal from consideration. The other health care providers who submitted proposals were Catholic Healthcare West of San Francisco, the nation's fifth largest health system, and HealthTech Management Services of Brentwood, Tenn., which currently manages Palm Drive.

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