Group consolidating Santa Rosa cancer centers at FountaingroveSANTA ROSA - Redwood Regional Medical Group Chief Executive Officer Wayne Fairchild describes recent efforts to consolidate the beginning of preparations for future changes in health care.

As the administrator awaits board approval for a five-year strategic business plan, he said the key to success will be learning to be flexible and nimble. The group recently began a staff reduction of about 6 percent, or about 20 positions. [See the story, "Redwood Regional reduces staff 6 percent, consolidates cancer program."]

Following the release of about $2 million in expansion investments earlier this year, officials said last week that the group would consolidate its cancer programs. Mr. Fairchild said the group must prepare itself for expected reimbursement cuts in the future.

"We have to be ready to be nimble and mobile. Even though we don't know exactly what the reform will look like, it is better to over prepare," he said.

"Change is not always a bad thing, and in this case it will make us survivable in the future. We can no longer operate the same way we did 20 years ago."

The Aug. 14 announcement said oncology services provided at its Sotoyome site near Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital will move to the group's Fountaingrove medical center. The move to create an "integrated cancer center" involved the transfer of some equipment and several medical staff, who will also rotate time in the group's Petaluma office.

The Sotoyome campus was also reconfigured to accommodate new women's imaging equipment. The group recently recruited another surgeon who will begin work in October, and plans to add more providers are ongoing.

Mr. Fairchild said Redwood Regional officials have worked for the last six months with consultants to create a five-year plan for the future. The proposal could include partnerships with other medical groups or further adjustments and consolidation of programs.

"This group has been here for decades, and every once in a while we have to remake ourselves to prepare for expansions and provide the community with a deeper trough of services," he said.

"What you see today will be different six months from now, and six months from then it will be different again."

Redwood Regional currently includes more than 300 health care providers and 10 medical campuses serving patients in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties.