Plan to reopen Palm Drive Hospital moves forward

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One of the first things you’ll notice about the future Sonoma West Medical Center are the new floors, revamped medical station, reconfigured patient rooms and donated artwork adorning the newly painted walls at the shuttered Sebastopol facility.

Less visible, however, is a plan to revive the former Palm Drive Hospital by making it into something much more than a traditional acute care inpatient hospital, a model that has failed twice, resulting in two Chapter 9 bankruptcies.

Far more crucial than the sprucing-up currently underway is an effort to create “centers of excellence” in such areas as neurology, orthopedics and a brain and spine institute, to name a few. Think of a mini-Kaiser model where the hospital manages facilities, billing and collections, allowing doctors to do what they do best.

“We’re looking at it from a more entrepreneurial point of view,” said Gail Thomas, president of the Palm Drive Health Care Foundation, the organization spearheading the new Sonoma West Medical Center.

“We basically came up with a model from the doctors,” she said. “The physicians said ‘This is what we would like.’ ”

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