Across the United States, community hospitals are challenged to keep their doors open. In southern and northern Sonoma County, Petaluma Valley Hospital and Healdsburg District Hospital, each owned by their local health care districts, have struggled to remain viable for the future.
The good news is that patients throughout the county no longer need to worry about the fate of their local hospitals.
NorCal HealthConnect, LLC, a secular (non-religious) affiliate of Providence St. Joseph Health, has agreed to purchase and upgrade these hospitals – ensuring that patients do not lose vital access to a range of medical services, including nearby emergency rooms.
In the summer of 2020, both the Petaluma Health Care District (which owns Petaluma Valley Hospital) and the North Sonoma County Healthcare District (which owns Healdsburg District Hospital) unanimously approved NorCal HealthConnect’s proposal to purchase their respective hospital.
In selecting NorCal HealthConnect, the health care districts are protecting their community members’ ability to access high-quality local medical care 24/7, preserving jobs at the hospitals, securing resources for needed upgrades and improvements, infusing new investments into community services, and ensuring all existing services remain intact.
A Shared VisionNothing is more personal than your health and wellbeing. NorCal HealthConnect believes its vision for the future must reflect those whose caring spirit will bring life to our core purpose. As such, NorCal HealthConnect will embark on a collaborative process to collectively develop a vision that represents the hard-working individuals who will define what the organization means to the community.
“As medical professionals, we are committed to ensuring Petaluma continues to have an exceptional acute care hospital with an emergency department to serve its residents around the clock.”
Michael Johnson, DPM;
P.J. Lally, M.D.;
Rajesh Ranadive, M.D.,
St. Joseph Health Medical Group
For decades, Petaluma Valley Hospital and Healdsburg District Hospital have been known for providing excellent, community-based care to Sonoma County residents. Unfortunately, financial uncertainty put both hospitals at risk for closing their doors. Through the sale of these hospitals to NorCal HealthConnect, Petaluma Valley Hospital and Healdsburg District Hospital will be able to continue to provide the best in care for their communities for decades to come, employ hundreds of area residents, and contribute to the local economy and overall health of the community.
Benefits of the NorCal HealthConnect’s Purchase:
- Ensure Petaluma Valley Hospital and Healdsburg District Hospital continue to offer quality, accessible and affordable care
- Ensure Petaluma Valley Hospital’s Family Birthing Center, which provides maternity and newborn care, remains available to patients
- Invest millions to repair and upgrade both facilities, including seismic safety renovations, new equipment, and a state-of-the-art medical records system
- Protect hundreds of local jobs and the hospitals’ substantial contribution to local economies
- Strengthen the local health care network and regional health care safety net, which is especially important during public health emergencies like COVID-19 and the wildfires
- Involve the community to ensure area residents’ needs and concerns are heard through community boards
Joseph Tito, M.D.
Chief of Surgery
Healdsburg District Hospital
NorCal HealthConnect, LLC Purchase of Petaluma Valley Hospital and Healdsburg District HospitalIn the face of growing financial pressures, the health care districts governing Petaluma Valley Hospital (PVH) and Healdsburg District Hospital (HDH) approved the sale of their respective community hospitals to NorCal HealthConnect, LLC (NorCal HealthConnect), ensuring continued access to local acute and emergency hospital services for nearby residents, without raising taxes.
On Nov. 3, 2020, final approval of the purchase of Healdsburg District Hospital [Measure BB] and Petaluma Valley Hospital [Measure CC] will go before area voters.
Who is NorCal HealthConnect?NorCal HealthConnect is a secular (non-religious) affiliate of Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH). Having been a longtime, proud part of the Sonoma County community, PSJH deepened its commitment to the county when a subsidiary of PSJH began operating Petaluma Valley Hospital in 1997. During the 23-year partnership, PVH has been recognized as one of the state’s top community hospitals and has received honors for excellent inpatient care.
NorCal HealthConnect is committed to keeping hospital doors open and providing high-quality health care to all residents, regardless of their ability to pay. Through the sale, jobs will be protected, community engagement is preserved and significant investments will upgrade the facilities, equipment and services – all without raising taxes.
Why was NorCal HealthConnect selected?As expenses and costly government regulations have grown, Petaluma Health Care District and the North Sonoma County Healthcare District independently determined selling the hospitals to NorCal HealthConnect presented the best path for preserving vital community access to emergency and acute care.
In selecting secular (non-religious) NorCal HealthConnect, the health care districts are not only protecting local 24/7 medical care, but also preserving jobs at the hospitals, securing resources for needed upgrades and improvements, infusing new investments into community services, and ensuring all existing services remain intact – including Petaluma’s Family Birthing Center.
Why does the sale require voter approval?While the boards of both the Petaluma Health Care District and the North Sonoma County Healthcare District voted unanimously to approve the sale of their hospitals to NorCal HealthConnect, because the facilities are publicly owned, local voter approval is required to finalize the sale.
On Nov. 3, 2020, voters will have the opportunity to approve the purchases and keep the hospitals’ doors open. Passage of Measure CC goes before voters in Petaluma, and Measure BB goes before voters in Healdsburg, Windsor, Geyserville and Cloverdale.
How will PVH and HDH be operated following the sale to NorCal HealthConnect?NorCal HealthConnect is committed to ensuring that the local community will continue to have a role in the oversight of PVH and HDH and that their voices are heard. Each hospital will have a community board made up of local residents and a designated member of that health care district to oversee hospital operations. NorCal HealthConnect’s Governing Board will approve budgets, capital expenditures, and strategic plans for each hospital.
Additionally, both the Petaluma Health Care District and the North Sonoma County Healthcare District will remain intact, continuing to work with the community toward a healthier Sonoma County.
Will PVH and HDH become religious hospitals following the NorCal HealthConnect purchase?Although NorCal HealthConnect is an affiliate of Providence St. Joseph Health, it is a secular (non-religious) organization. PVH and HDH will remain non-religious following the sale. As part of the agreement, NorCal HealthConnect has committed to keeping Petaluma’s Family Birthing Center open and continuing to offer all current services at the hospitals.
What are the benefits to the community of NorCal HealthConnect’s purchase of PVH and HDH?
The sale of PVH and HDH will ensure local residents have continued access to high-quality, affordable acute and emergency hospital services. Specifically, the sale of the hospitals will:
- Ensure Healdsburg District Hospital and Petaluma Valley Hospital continue to offer quality, accessible and affordable care at all service levels
- Protect hundreds of local jobs and the hospitals’ substantial contribution to their local economies
- Secure the investment of millions into improving and upgrading both facilities, including seismic safety renovations, new equipment, and a state-of-the-art medical records system
- Create local community boards to ensure area residents’ needs and concerns are heard
- Ensure Petaluma Valley Hospital’s Family Birthing Center will remain available to patients
- Protect the only health care rehabilitation facility in the Healdsburg area
- Strengthen the local health care network and regional health care safety net, especially during public health emergencies like COVID-19 and the wildfires
- Allow for broader collaboration and continuity of care through a broad network of health facilities and providers
- Require no new taxes from residents
Will Kaiser patients still have access to the PVH emergency department following the sale to NorCal HealthConnect?Because all residents should have the peace of mind that comes with nearby access to quality emergent and trauma care, PVH will continue to provide services, particularly emergency services, for local Kaiser patients following its purchase by NorCal HealthConnect.
How will the sale of PVH and HDH impact current employees’ jobs, salaries, benefits and bargaining agreements?NorCal HealthConnect will retain all eligible hospital employees at the time of the sale’s closing - with no reduction of salaries and receiving comparable benefits. In addition, NorCal HealthConnect will assume all collective bargaining agreements.
When will the purchase of PVH and HDH be finalized?Upon voter approval for each transaction, NorCal HealthConnect’s purchase of PVH and HDH will occur on or before December 31, 2020.
What our communities are saying about NorCal HealthConnect
- “Community hospitals right around us and around the country have been struggling to remain full-service hospitals and some have closed service lines, been acquired, or closed all together. Regardless, we have been steadfast on finding a solid future for our hospital.”
Ramona Faith, MSN, RN, CEO, Petaluma Valley Hospital - North Bay Business Journal July 28, 2020
- “I don’t know how the hospital would address the seismic issue without the partnership. We’d have to fund it, or close the hospital.”
Erin Gore, Chair, North Sonoma County Healthcare District, The Press Democrat July 31, 2020
- “This allows Healdsburg hospital and emergency room, which are great community assets still, to thrive, and allows the district to focus on health and wellness and prevention, like they’ve done.”
Supervisor James Gore, The Press Democrat, July 31, 2020
- “It’s important to recognize that a 20-year commitment is a very solid commitment to ensure that we have core services and an active ER. We’ve seen giant changes in even the last 10 years on how hospitals are operating and their margin is narrower and narrower.”
Elece Hempel, President, Petaluma Health Care District Board
- "The District is pursuing the sale because it was the only viable option that assures the Petaluma community access to a local acute care hospital with an emergency room for a minimum of 20 years. As a result of the sale, NorCal HealthConnect will assume responsibility for deferred and ongoing maintenance, capital expenditures and seismic compliance."
Petaluma Health Care District
- “I appreciate knowing that I will be able to continue to provide excellent care to my patients in our hospital and clinic, which makes this an excellent deal for our patients, the community, and my fellow physicians.”
Dr. Gary LeKander M.D., Chief of Staff and Medical Director of ICU and RespiratoryTherapy, Healdsburg District Hospital
- Healdsburg District Hospital on the path to new ownership
- Small California North Coast hospitals seek larger partners to survive
- PD Editorial: A life-saving plan for Healdsburg, Petaluma hospitals
- Petaluma Valley Hospital sale only option
- Healthcare officials pitch hospital sale
- Don’t delay vital health care needs
- Letters to the Editor
- Petaluma Health Care District Recommends Petaluma Valley Hospital Sale to NorCal HealthConnect, LLC
- North Sonoma County Healthcare District takes the next step in ensuring long-term security and viability for the Critical Access Hospital
Responses from the Communities
"The District is pursuing the sale because it was the only viable option that assures the Petaluma community access to a local acute care hospital with an emergency room for a minimum of 20 years. As a result of the sale, NorCal HealthConnect will assume responsibility for deferred and ongoing maintenance, capital expenditures and seismic compliance."
Petaluma Health Care District
Supervisor James Gore, The Press Democrat, July 31, 2020