SR Press Democrat, October 6, 2015: Hospital Waits to Reopen

Sebastopol hospital losing millions while it waits to reopen

(l to r) Jeannine Kenward, Kay Monroe and Vanessa Vasquez train for the computerized pharmaceutical delivery system before the opening of the Sonoma West Medical Center in Sebastopol. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

Late last year, when supporters embarked on an ambitious plan to resurrect the failed Palm Drive Hospital, they set a target date of early April for the grand opening.

Five months later, the hospital remains closed, and neither hospital officials nor the state Department of Public Health have a firm date for when it will reopen under its new name, Sonoma West Medical Center.

Every month the hospital remains closed costs it another $1 million, roughly, according to hospital CEO Raymond Hino. The delays and daily expenditures are likely to put even greater financial pressure on the hospital when it finally opens, but officials said they are confident the hospital will succeed in the end.

“The complexity of opening a hospital, in terms of degree of difficulty, is off the charts,” Hino said. “Early on, we did not have an appreciation of how difficult it was going to be to reopen a hospital that had been closed.”

Critics say that since last year, hospital supporters have floated unrealistic time frames for retooling the hospital, which was shuttered in the spring of 2014 due to dramatic declines in both overnight patient stays and insurance reimbursements.

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