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Just a year after reporting losses of $794 million, Kaiser Permanente posted net income of $2.1 billion in 2009 with the help of a strong final quarter.

One of the most prominent health care providers in Northern California, the Oakland-based nonprofit HMO said that total operating revenue was up 4.5 percent, from $40.3 billion in 2008 to $42.1 billion in fiscal 2009, while operating income for the entire year was nearly identical to the previous year, at $1.5 billion in 2008 to $1.6 billion in 2009. In the fourth quarter of 2009, operating income was $214 million, more than twice the amount of the same time in 2008, which was $108 million, according to the Kaiser report Feb. 12.

In the non-operating arena of the HMO's revenue, Kaiser improved from the previous year, with net income of $524 million versus a loss of $2.3 billion in 2008. The shift was attributed to the stabilization of financial markets, from which Kaiser was able to resume support of investments in hospitals, clinics and IT, according to Kathy Lancaster, executive vice president and CFO.

While the boost in profits comes amid a healthier financial sector, a simultaneous loss of 64,000 enrollees reflects the volatile job market, particularly in California, where the unemployment rate remains at a higher-than-average 12 percent, according to Tom Meier, senior vice president and treasurer. The loss of policy holders is a 0.7 percent drop in the overall enrollment of 8.58 million in nine states and the District of Columbia.***

The Marin Healthcare District hired a new chief fund and business development officer as it seeks to retake control of Marin General Hospital in the coming months. John Friendenberg, who previously served as vice president at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, will assume responsibilities that include business development, fundraising, marketing, planning, government and media relations and external communications.

Since the hiring comes just as the health care district plans to regain control of the public hospital from Sutter Health, Mr. Friedenberg’s experience at El Camino, as well as with political campaigns, could likely serve as a boon to the controversial and highly complex effort. The district cited his successful campaign to secure $148 million in bond measures for construction at El Camino.

The district hopes to gain voter support in Marin to help fund a seismic upgrade for the hospital at a cost of $400 million, which officials said would be paid for through a combination of philanthropic capital campaigning, tax-exempt debt and a $150 million bond measure.***

Sutter Health is seeking nearly $5 million in back rent, fees and interest in a lawsuit filed against Sonic Solutions, a Novato-based tech company that leased space at 101 Rowland Blvd. As of press time, a call seeking comment from Sonic was not returned.

The health giant alleged that Sonic abandoned its lease in December. The tech company is currently headquartered at 7250 Redwood Blvd. in Novato.

Although the former property has changed hands several times in recent years, Sutter took over the lease when it purchased the property in 2007 as it sought additional space for new medical offices near its current facility, Novato Community Hospital.***

St. Joseph Health System-Sonoma County has moved its urgent care center at 1287 Fulton Road in Santa Rosa to 925 Corporate Center Parkway, Suite A. The center has seven private exam rooms as well as digital imaging services and opened last Friday.•••

Submit items for this column to Dan Verel at dverel@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4257 or fax 707-521-5292.