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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, April 30, 2012, 6:00 am

Facing big losses, two Lake County clinics to be closed

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    Dan Verel, Business Journal Staff ReporterSutter Lakeside Hospital announced recently it would close two clinics in Lake County.

    The Upper Lake Community Health Clinic, which serves roughly 2,400 patients per year and was losing more than $200,000 a year,  and a chronic pain clinic will both be shuttered in the coming months.

    The hospital intends to move the clinic’s services to its Family Medicine Center at the main campus outside of Lakeport by May 31, with expanded hours and more providers to additional patients.  The chronic pain clinic, which serves about 650 patients per year, is set to close by the end of June. That clinic was hemorrhaging about $1 million a year.  

    Sutter Lakeside said it may make its mobile health unit available once a week at the sight of the Upper Lake clinic, located at Upper Lake High School, as a means of providing an alternative for residents.

    Sutter Lakeside Chief Administration Officer Siri Nelson cited the overall Lake County economy as one of the pressures leading to the cuts. The unemployment rate in Lake County stood at 16.8 percent in March.

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    The Northern California Center for Well Being, which focuses on employee wellness throughout Sonoma County, recently entered into a contract with Fairfield-based Partnership Health Plan, a non-profit managed Medi-Cal provider.

    The nonprofit Center for Well Being in Santa Rosa will serve Partnership’s patients through its medical nutrition services for both group and individual members, which will provide one-on-one nutrition counseling with a registered dietician and group self-care classes for diabetes, adult weight management, childhood obesity and other areas, according to Alena Wall, the center executive director.

    Partnership Health Plan administers benefits for some 200,000 total members across six counties, including Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Solano, Mendocino and Yolo counties. Last year, the health plan was designated by the state as the Community Provider Plan in Sonoma County, enabling it to offer some 7,000 enrollees in the program lower health care premiums.

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    Dr. Bo Greaves of the Santa Rosa Community Health Centers was presented with the 2012 Family Physician of the Year award by the California Academy of Family Physicians, the health centers announced.  The academy, with more than 7,000 members, is the largest primary care medical society in California.

    Dr. Greaves was commended for the following areas: providing patients with comprehensive and compassionate care; direct and effective involvement in community affairs that “enhance the quality of his community;” being a credible role model to his community and other health professionals, including professionals and residents and medical students; and effective representation for the specialty of family medicine.

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    The board of directors of TriVascular, Inc.  appointed Christopher G. Chavez as chairman, CEO and president, effective immediately.

    Mr. Chavez takes over from TriVascular co-founder Michael V. Chobotov, Ph.D., who was  appointed chief technology officer and will continue to serve on the company’s board.

    Mr. Chavez has over 30 years of experience in the medical device industry. For the past six years, Mr. Chavez served as president of the Neuromodulation Division (NMD) of St. Jude Medical.

    He joined St. Jude Medical through its acquisition of Advanced Neuromodulation Systems (ANS) in 2005. At ANS,  Mr. Chavez served as CEO, president and director leading ANS/NMD for 14 years,  Prior to ANS, Mr. Chavez spent 17 years at Johnson &
    Johnson.

    Mr. Chavez has previously served as chairman of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association, chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth Health Industry Council, and as a board member of Advanced Medical Optics, which was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in 2009.

    Mr. Chavez received his MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from New Mexico State University.

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    Palm Drive Hospital is expected to make a final decision within the next month on an electronic medical records system that could bring the 37-bed facility in line with its strategic partners while improving care.

    The Palm Drive Healthcare District, which operates the hospital, has narrowed down the choice to a system made by McKesson that would cost $3.8 million over a five-year period. The price of implementation would include annual maintenance cost as well as the labor needed to operate it, said Rick Reid, the hospital’s CFO who is also serving as interim CEO.

    Both Sonoma Valley and Marin General hospitals, which Palm Drive recently entered into an affiliation with, use a McKesson system for their electronic medical records.

    Palm Drive’s board was poised to vote on the matter but delayed action to see if the McKesson system could work in conjunction with another system, HarminyMD, made by Dr. James Gude’s OffSiteCare. Dr. Gude, a telemedicine specialist at Palm Drive, proposed using the two systems, but the HarminyMD system doesn’t have accounting and billing capabilities. The administration said it would ask McKesson if the two systems could augment one another and, if so, at what additional cost.

    The hospitals hopes to have whichever system it decides on by July 2013, which would enable the hospital to obtain so-called “meaningful use” funds from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services totaling $3.7 million. The meaningful use funds were established as part of the American Recovering and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as a means of encouraging technological upgrades in health care. On the other hand, payments for those not participating in meaningful use face a reduction in reimbursements. 

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    The Petaluma Health Care District will host a community forum on health care reform on Thursday, May 3, from 6–8 p.m. It be held at the Petaluma Community Health Center at 320 North McDowell Blvd., conference rooms A-D.  Herb Schultz, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be the featured speaker. He will be introduced by Petaluma Health Center CEO Kathie Powell. The event is free and open to the public.

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    On Saturday, May 5, West County Health Centers will participate in the Sonoma County Human Race. The nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center is seeking small donations of $10, $20, or $50 to help sponsor the fundraising event. The Human Race is a nationwide community fundraising event for nonprofit organizations and is the largest collaborative fundraising event in Sonoma County, according to the health centers. It has raised nearly $1 million for local charities in 2011. More information can be found at www.wchealth.org.

    Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Dan Verel, 707-521-4257 or dverel@busjrnl.com.

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