GREENBRAE — With the Marin Healthcare District just weeks away from taking over at Marin General Hospital, several key projects are in the works as the deadline of June 29 approaches.
Chief among the tasks that loom as transition draws nearer is the launch of an information technology system that is being built from scratch, hospital officials said.
As part of the severance agreement with Sutter Health of Sacramento, which oversaw operations at Marin General since 1996, the district agreed to implement an entirely new IT and business office system prior to the transfer date, replacing similar services that were previously supplied by Sutter.
District officials said they are on pace to meet the approaching deadline for implementation of the IT system and services, which will be delivered by Affiliated Computer Services Inc. ACS and the district signed a seven-year contract in April 2009.
The district “has been working with ACS to assure that the IT transition will go smoothly and without interruption to Marin General Hospital’s operations,” wrote Chief Executive Officer Lee Domanico last month.
Should “unanticipated issues” arise with the new IT system, Sutter, the district and ACS have agreed on a contingency plan, according to the district. Sutter said it will leave its IT system in place for a period if asked to do so, as a means to “ensure no disruption to patient care while the district works to make its system operational,” according to a February agreement between the two sides.
The district also said an electronic medical records system will be in place two years after the June 29 IT deadline and transfer date.
Other issues that are being ironed out in light of the transition include updating the original lease from 1985. At a recent board meeting, the district reviewed a series of proposed adjustments that it said will “reflect modern operations, remove obsolete provisions, add provisions necessary to address the transfer and accommodate the seismic compliance needs.”
Among those provisions is obligating the Marin General Hospital Corp., which leases the hospital from the district, to “cooperate, plan, develop, fund and construct” the planned seismic retrofit and new construction.
Labor negotiations are also under way as the district seeks an agreement on pension plans that mirror existing benefits of the previous Sutter Health plan for those currently employed at the hospital.
According to the transfer agreement, the district will make future contributions to whatever plan is agreed upon. Marin General employees’ current pension plan is fully funded but will be frozen on the transfer date of hospital control.
Negotiations are also under way to maintain the continuity of contracts for physicians, labor unions and vendors.
Sutter made it a priority to avoid a large number of contracts expiring on or near the transfer date, reasoning that it would be difficult for new management at the hospital to negotiate upon transferring control.
While deadlines loom for projects before the transfer date, numerous major tasks lay ahead after the transition, most notably how to secure funding for an estimated $500 million expansion and retrofitting of the hospital. The district is looking to replace an in-patient tower as well as build a new ambulatory services facility and a parking garage.