Today’s announcement that Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa will not close as expected is a stunner. But is it good news for the county?
Certainly, it’s cause for celebration for the 1,200 or so employees who stood to lose their jobs or move elsewhere. But the big question is what does it mean that Sutter will “stay open” and what has changed?
Will it stay open as it is, or will it cut back on its most expensive operations such as its emergency room? And, if not, what has changed to make Sutter change its mind?
Early last year, when Sutter officials announced plans to close the hospital, they said they were losing $6 million to $7 million a year. Plus, they were facing a state mandate to seismically retrofit the hospital by 2013. What has changed about those facts that would make Sutter reverse course?
The other major issue concerns what this means for Memorial Hospital which has invested huge sums in expanding services in anticipation of picking up Sutter’s patients when it closes.

Right now, nobody is saying anything. The Board of Supervisors is meeting behind closed doors. Memorial officials are expected to say something later today. And Sutter officials have only issued a statement to employees saying the medical center “will remain open and explore options for growing the business/revenues and decreasing costs in order to reduce the unsustainable hospital losses.”

Is this just a card that Sutter is playing after negotiations broke down? It’s all very curious.
– Paul Gullixson