Palm Drive Hospital officials targeting April 6 reopening

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An effort to reopen Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol in April is ramping up.

Details of the proposed new hospital are emerging as the hospital board has given approval for a local hospital foundation to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance costs to ready the facility.

“It’s clear that we are progressing and moving the ball down the field, and we’re working together,” said Dennis Colthurst, one of two new board members elected in November.

Colthurst and newly elected board member Dr. Richard Powers both opposed the April 28 closure of the hospital last spring and are part of what appears to be renewed momentum to rebrand and relaunch the hospital.

“I think it became clear to everyone involved that the west county community wants a hospital,” said Colthurst of the November election. “I think that’s the message that everybody got.”

He said the board and hospital supporters are moving forward as quickly as possible, though with caution and financial prudence.

The Palm Drive Health Care Foundation, a longtime supporter of the hospital, formed a new nonprofit entity called Sonoma West Medical Center that proposes to take over management and operations of Palm Drive Hospital. The board has already entered into negotiations with the new organization.

Earlier this week, the hospital board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the Palm Drive Health Care Foundation to spend foundation funds on hospital upgrades such as painting, replacement of floor covering, repairing damage to walls and other work.

Daymon Doss, the hospital’s executive director, said the work could cost “a couple hundred thousand dollars,” though the foundation itself recently authorized a spending cap of half a million dollars.

That maintenance work, after being reviewed by an ad-hoc committee of the board, could begin immediately, Doss said.

Other actions unanimously authorized by the board on Monday include:

Contracting with Aspen Street Architects for design services on several hospital projects that were in progress before last year’s closure, including work on the hospital’s medical gas delivery system and emergency generator.

Submitting a request to the California Department of Public Health to extend the current license suspension of the hospital’s medical surgical beds, in case the hospital does not reopen by the foundation’s target date of April 6.

The license suspension was scheduled to end April 27, a year after the hospital officially closed. Doss said the district is requesting another yearlong suspension.

Details of the new hospital being proposed by the foundation and Sonoma West Medical Center — including its financial projections and proposed medical services — will be reviewed by the board at a noontime meeting Monday.

Raymond Hino, the newly hired CEO for Sonoma West Medical Center and the hospital foundation, called the proposed facility a “modern, 21st century hospital” that “emphasizes top-of-the-line high quality outpatient surgical and medical services.”

The hospital, he said, would feature a 24-hour emergency department with four beds and additional beds for observations; 25 medical/surgical beds, of which 5 would be for intensive care; and a bevy of medical “institutes” focused on such specialties as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, neurology, urology and integrative medicine.

Hino said the goal is to attract physicians who “don’t want to work at Sutter or Memorial or Kaiser and are looking for a place where they can create a medical institute (where) they want to (work), and practice the type of medicine that they want to practice.”

If successful, the institutes would draw patients not only from the west county but other parts of the county and North Bay region, he said.

The new hospital also will be more aggressively promoted, he said. The hospital’s business plan proposes spending up to $721,000 on marketing, a sevenfold increase.

“Palm Drive Hospital always had excellent quality medical services, but they were never marketed effectively,” Hino said. “Another key is marketing services heavily so everybody knows what we have.”

The hospital’s business plan assumes an “idealized first year” with a growth of $5 million. Startup capital costs are roughly estimated at “$11.2 million based on a number of assumptions including building upgrades, receivable financing, ramp up momentum, supply startup costs, medical equipment costs and others.”

Doss described the foundation’s plan will receive a thorough public review at Monday’s noontime meeting. The meeting will be held in the conference room at Palm Drive Hospital, 501 Petaluma Ave., in Sebastopol.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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