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Palm Drive Health Care District, which for years focused on keeping a troubled Sebastopol hospital alive, is seeking to recast its role in west Sonoma County.

The district is hoping to broaden its mission beyond its traditional responsibility of running a hospital with an additional focus on prevention and wellness through partnerships with providers such as the West County Health Centers.

On Monday evening, the district board approved a budget for the next fiscal year that includes slightly more than $200,000 for projects that include in-home support services, wound care, reducing health care disparities along the Russian River and bolstering weekend medical and dental services.

District board members described the projects as a first step toward transforming the district into something more than just a hospital district. The district envisions a model similar to the Petaluma Health Care District, which supports both a hospital and numerous community health care prevention and wellness programs.

“It’s a monumental step for our district to partner with the successful agencies in the Russian River area,” said Marsha Sue Lustig, a member of the board.

Lustig, along with board member Sandra Bodley, headed an ad-hoc committee that has been evaluating the west county’s broader health care needs ever since the board voted to shut down the former Palm Drive Hospital in March 2014.

Special focus was given to Russian River communities such as Forestville and Monte Rio, due to income and health gaps between those areas and Sebastopol.

The move comes as a group of Russian River corridor residents asks to be removed from the district’s boundaries, saying they do not want to pay for a hospital they do not use.

Most of the projects funded by the district will be run directly or indirectly by the West County Health Centers. The money approved by the board Monday is part of the district’s $2.2 million budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Budget approval of the projects takes place on the eve of the reopening of the old Palm Drive Hospital as the Sonoma West Medical Center. That facility is scheduled to open any day, once state health officials sign off.

District board member Sandra Bodley said she and other board members are confident the new hospital will be financially sustainable, allowing the district to focus on more general health care needs in the west county. That shift in focus is in part a direct response to the changes in health care provoked by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, she said.

“We’re optimistic (the hospital) will be financially viable through their financial model and their financial systems,” Bodley said.

The projects include:

$34,500 for Russian River Area Resources and Advocates, an organization that works to promote wellness and reduce health, social and economic disparities. WCHC is the group’s fiscal agent.

$46,675 for a partnership between WCHC and In Home Support Services, Santa Rosa Junior College to recruit and train in-home support workers in the Russian River area.

$68,825 to fund after-hours services at WCHC clinics for medical and dental care.

$17,250 to develop wound care services in the Russian River area.

Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, at two west county senior centers will be funded for $3,000, with training provided by Coastal Valley EMS. Also, $40,000 in one-time funding is slated for the Bodega Bay Fire District to help sustain paramedic and ambulance services.

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