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Also: Napa launches drug discount card; Internet service expands offeringsAssemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, has asked the Marin General Hospital board chosen by operator Sutter Health to explain why about $118 million in profits have been transferred out of the county since 1995.

Although the practice is not specifically barred under any contractual agreements, the legislator made the demand in an announcement released July 20 after hospital financial statements showed the transfer of about $49 million out of county in 2008 and $38.7 million in 2007.

"This is money that the hospital generates that should be allocated for meeting the needs of the hospital and the local community, not transferred to other assets held by Sutter," he said.

The Northern California health care organization has leased the hospital from the local health care district for the last 14 years, but it will soon relinquish control of the facility after an early contract termination agreement was reached in 2006. The district is now faced with making more than $350 million in renovations required by the state to meet seismic safety regulations.

Sutter officials have said they will leave the hospital without debt and in good financial standing but have not officially responded to Mr. Huffman.

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Napa County officials this summer unveiled a prescription drug discount program, previously launched in Sonoma, Mendocino, Marin and Solano counties, which will provide users an average 22 percent discount for their medicine.

County spokeswoman Elizabeth Emmett said the program sponsored by the National Association of Counties and CVS Caremark works by offering citizens a free discount card that can be obtained without paperwork or enrollment requirements. She said the program does not limit the number of participants and can be used at 16 local pharmacies including CVS and Longs Drugs, Wal-Mart, Raley's, Rite-Aid, Safeway, Family United Drug and others.

Napa residents of any income level can sign up for the card from one of 17 locations in the county, which are listed with participating pharmacies at www.co.napa.ca.us. The program is currently available in about 1,000 counties nationwide.

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A San Rafael-based organization responsible for the creation of the now nationally present "Network of Care" recently expanded its Web offerings to veterans-centered resources including sites in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

In 2001, Trilogy Integrated Resources launched with the goal of providing county-specific Web sites to serve as one-stop resources for health care in a region. The program first tested in Alameda County has expanded to include more than 400 communities in 30 states over eight years. North Bay counties simultaneously launched their versions in April 2006.

"The main purpose for Network of Care is to be the kind of hub or bridge between all of the health care resources that are out there no matter their funding silo and the person and their family that are looking for them," said Trilogy President Bruce Bronzan, who leads the organization with Chief Executive Officer Afshin Khosravi.

The sites include information on resources related to mental and behavioral health, children's care, developmental disabilities, domestic violence, public health, probation services, aging and long-term care. Mr. Bronzan said the group received several grants to kick-start the new veteran's piece first tested on California and Maryland sites.

The side includes a library of about 40,000 articles on a variety of topics and links to about 20,000 other related sites. Also, users can access social networking resources including virtual forums and groups. Each county site averages about 2 million visitors per month.

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[caption id="attachment_12346" align="alignright" width="140" caption="Michael Carnevale"][/caption]

Mendocino Community Clinic Medical Director Michael Carnevale recently became one of only a few in the United States to hold a certificate from the American Board of Addiction Medicine.

Dr. Carnevale, who has also held board-certification in internal medicine since 1992, officially received the accreditation earlier this summer, certifying him as a specialist in medicine related to drug addiction. He was hired to the Mendocino health center in 1993 and was promoted to medical director in 1996.

In addition to treating patients with an addiction disorder, he will also integrate prevention and screening into regular check-ups.

"In communities across America, addiction to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a primary cause of physical and mental disease," he said.

"My training and certification in addiction medicine is part of MCHC's strategy to tackle this huge social and medical problem throughout the Mendo-Lake region."

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