GREENBRAE — Marin General hospital, the county’s largest provider of acute-care services, has undergone rapid change in the past three years, having shifted away from Sutter Health to an independent district. But perhaps its biggest and most important challenge still lay ahead, as the 235-bed facility seeks to entirely rebuild itself in order to meet state compliance with seismic safety measures.
In order to meet such compliance, the hospital, owned by the Marin Healthcare District, said it needs to essentially rebuild the existing structure, at a cost of approximately $500 million. And in order to fund most of that cost, the district is seeking a $350 general obligation bond from Marin voters this November, which it it says is a vital component of carrying out care for years to come.
In addition to the rebuild, the hospital, like health care providers across the country, is adapting to a quickly moving landscape spurred by the federal Affordable Care Act, better known as health care reform. It’s done so by aligning itself with other, smaller districts to consolidate back-end operations, and it has acquired at least six medical practices that expand its physician pool and help coordinate better care that keeps patients out of the emergency room.
Jon Friedenberg, chief fund and business development officer and a presenter at Impact Marin April 3, recently shared some of his thoughts on the rebuild:
Q: Overall, how would you describe the reaction, so far, to the health care district’s plan to put forth a general obligation bond to raise $350 million to rebuild Marin General Hospital?
Mr. Friedenberg: Marin General Hospital is owned by the residents of this community. We believe that residents recognize the value Marin General Hospital brings to the community as the only source for many important services and programs; including being the county’s only designated trauma center, only full-service cancer care program, nationally recognized for its excellence, only accredited chest pain center, only comprehensive heart and vascular care, only labor and delivery services with a highly regarded and extraordinarily innovative combined OB/midwifery program, and only certified primary stroke center that can treat all types of stroke on-site.
Q: Based on your outreach, have people in Marin County generally been supportive?
Mr. Friedenberg: Now back under local control, the hospital’s credibility with and support from the community is continuing to rise.
Q: In your words, describe the importance of the proposed rebuild, and what it means to the future of health care in Marin County?
Mr. Friedenberg: Building a replacement hospital is critical to this community, especially given the county’s potential geographic isolation from emergency and health care services in the event of an earthquake or other major natural disaster. Beyond that, the importance of day-to-day, prompt access to life-saving medical care cannot be over-emphasized. The consequences of delayed treatment for someone suffering a stroke could be tragic, ranging from permanent and severe disability to death. For someone severely injured in an automobile crash, fall or other accident, rapid treatment increases the chance of survival by up to 25 percent. It should be noted that Marin is the most rapidly aging county in California, and its citizens need and deserve a hospital that will be able to meet their inevitable medical needs.
To remain open, rebuilding the hospital is not optional: it is a legislative mandate that brings the hospital up to current earthquake standards. This mandate offers Marin County a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a hospital that can meet county needs for the next 50 years, providing a state-of-the-art emergency department and intensive care unit to improve patient care and shorten wait times. The new building will be able to remain operational in the event of a major earthquake so that those in need of emergency medical care can be treated.
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