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Sonoma Valley Hospital has sold the first chunk of bond financing approved by voters last November, and officials expect to receive about $12 million this week.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc. purchased the certificates earlier this month after the company offered the lowest interest rate of about 5.81 percent. About $4 million of the new funds will be used for renegotiating existing debt obligations, which is expected to save the hospital about $1 million annually in interest.

Hospital planners will use another $2 million to perform site evaluations and develop a master plan for future state-required seismic retrofitting. The financing will also be used to make the campus wireless and transfer records to electronic format.

The most expensive retrofitting project, a $20 million central utility plant, is expected to break ground sometime in 2011 after the remaining bonds are sold.

In related news, the hospital also recently cemented a partnership with Vineyard Workers Services to provide state-required health assessments for laborers that work with pesticides and other chemicals.

The service will provide the facility with additional state financing and is an expansion of an existing partnership with the group that helps grape industry laborers find housing and other essential needs.

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Retired hospital executive Thomas Hayes stepped up as interim vice president of operations last week at Petaluma Valley Hospital after former lead Jim Suver left the county for another position in Southern California.

Mr. Hayes retired from permanent administrative work in 2007 after 17 years as president and chief executive officer of the Fremont-Rideout Health Group in Yuba City, where he oversaw more than 2,000 employees at three acute-care hospitals. In January, the Truckee resident completed an interim position at the John Muir Medical Center in Concord.

He officially assumed the new Sonoma County role Feb. 17.

Also in a new role in Petaluma, Marilyn Segal was chosen to lead the Community Health Care Foundation of Greater Petaluma as executive director, according to an announcement.

Ms. Segal has served as an executive director to three different agencies as well as a management consultant to nonprofits throughout the Bay Area. This year, the group will be responsible for distributing about $125,000 in grants to support the hospital, Petaluma Peoples Services and other community organizations.

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Planners for the new, Willits-based Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital & Healthcare Campus said they are about two months away from finalizing funding options for construction of the campus.

In September, the foundation that is raising funds for the project received an estimate for the new 74,000-square-foot hospital that was about $19 million more than expected, and developers said they would need to find a way to reign in the price.

Since that bid, Frank R. Howard Foundation officials consulted with contractors and a financing agency and said they expect to resolve cost issues by April and send the project out to bid again this summer.

The group decided to rebuild the hospital after it was apparent retrofitting the existing facility operated by Adventist Health would be just as costly as starting from scratch. Plans call for a two-story, LEED-certified hospital with a neighboring 20,000-square-foot medical office building.

According to planning documents, the medical building could also include a physical therapy office and pool, ambulance staff dormitory and a 150-seat auditorium

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Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa received a three-year commendation for its cancer center from the American College of Surgeons this month, a title held by only about a fourth all U.S. hospitals.

The St. Joseph Health System hospital received the designation after ACS physicians completed an on-site evaluation.

The hospital was required to have a leadership committee, data management system, clinical services, community outreach and quality improvement program exclusively for the cancer program.

Also within the Orange-based health system, the Santa Rosa dental clinic recently received a two-year materials and supplies grant from the California Dental Association and Henry Schein Cares.

The low-income dental clinic in the southwest part of the city will receive between $5,000 and $25,000 per year in products from Henry Schein Inc.

Additionally, the Alliance to the Redwood Empire Dental Society will provide $10,000 in credit to the clinic that can be used to purchase materials related to prevention and community education.

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The county of Solano commenced community planning meetings late last month for a new, 30,000-square-foot government building that, among other uses, will centralize public health and human services.

Community members and city officials met Jan. 31 for the first of several public meetings planned for the future William J. Carroll Government Center, named after former Vacaville Mayor and County Supervisor William “Bill” Carroll.

“Improving access to health and social services was very important to Bill throughout his political career. The construction of the centralized facility honors his legacy,” said supervisor John Vasquez.

Sacramento planning firm Kitchell CEM presented conceptual plans during the four-hour workshop, which showed a two-story building just off I-80 in Vacaville at the corner of East Monte Vista Avenue and Brown Street.

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A Bay Area asthma group recently received more than $300,000 in grant funding that will be used to develop a regional asthma education program for providers in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.

Breathe California—Golden State Public Health Partnership received a portion of more than $5.7 million in grants distributed by UnitedHealth Group/PacifiCare late last month. The group will use the funding to perform on-site asthma screenings, conduct forums and run support groups.

The award is part of a total $25 million grant program released in phases beginning in January 2008. The health benefits provider accepted applications for the final phase of the program through Feb. 20 and will announce the winners sometime this summer.

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Healdsburg- and Windsor-based Alliance Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Priscilla Contreras was recently accepted to the Clinic Leadership Institute, a project by Blue Shield of California Foundation.

“Our goal is to invest in tomorrow’s leaders today to ensure that we have a strong and vibrant network of community clinics now and into the future,” said Blue Shield Foundation President and CEO Crystal Haying.

Ms. Contreras will join 33 other clinic leaders in the 18-month program meant to build leadership and business skills. The program is operated by UCSF and funded by the Blue Shield Foundation.

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Submit items for this column to Ashley Furness at afurness@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4257 or fax 707-521-5292.