We don't pretend to know all of the intricacies of health care delivery trends.

What we do know is that Sutter Health stands ready to immediately invest $176 million to build a new modern, green, efficient hospital in Santa Rosa.

How many communities can say that in an economic environment where health care clearly has not been spared some pain?

As Sonoma County supervisors sit down today for a workshop on Sutter's proposal, we hope there is a sense of urgency to get this project moving.   

As the region has seen all too often, unnecessary delays can inflict serious economic damage to private sector projects, i.e. the gay retirement community at Fountaingrove, or even kill it, i.e. the Roseland Wal-Mart proposal.

The principal objection being raised to the new Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa is, amazingly in a community that shuns growth, that it isn't big enough. 

Sutter wants to build a 70-bed state-of-the-art hospital and physicians' medical center off Highway 101 next to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

Some officials are saying that's not enough beds.

But Sutter's aging 135-bed hospital on Chanate Road - which faces a looming deadline for critical seismic upgrades - operates at 51 percent occupancy and falling. So, 70 beds for the new hospital make sense. Meanwhile, the overall trend for the industry is for declining levels of hospitalization and more outpatient procedures and prevention.

For supervisors today, what is known is that they have in front of them an organization that has absorbed millions in operating losses providing medical services in Sonoma County, including to many uninsured. From 2003 through 2008, Sutter has reported losses in Sonoma County of $60 million.

Sutter estimates it has invested $250 million in health care in Sonoma County since coming here in 1996 to rescue a failing community hospital.

Now it wants to invest another $176 million to build a new hospital and create hundreds of construction jobs in the process.

We'd call that our own economic stimulus. And it should get under way without further delay.