Sutter Health proposes building a new, smaller hospital at the Wells Fargo Center, north of Santa Rosa, to replace the old medical campus on Chanate Road. But critics, including rival hospitals, worry that the new facility will be too small.
The planned $176 million, 70 bed hospital would have barely half the 135 beds at the current Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, still known to long-time locals as Community Hospitlal (right). Such downsizing could rupture the delicate balance among local hospitals regarding who cares for the poor and uninsured patients in the area, says Dr.Gary Greensweig, Director of Medicine for St. Josephs' Healthcare of Sonoma County. He notes that the existing Sutter facilites now provide about 30% of that car, and their Health Care Access Agreeement with the county, the contract that Sutter accepted when they first came to Sonoma County, stipulates that the same level of care be maintained.
Sutter has been weighing the construction of a new hospital on the grounds of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts for several years now. The current proposal would be situated on the northwest corner of the property, as shown in the site map below. With a specific project under consideration, Sutter spokeswoman Lisa Amador says they are already well into the process of drafting the Environmental Impart Report that the project will eventually require.
Supervisor Shirlee Zane, the only member of the board to give an indication of her leanings on the proposal, appeared cautiously supportive. She also raised the spectre of Sutter following through on their earlier bid to leave the county altogether if their project is not approved.