Sonoma district also considering alliance with Marin HealthcareSONOMA AND NAPA — Sonoma Valley Hospital is in negotiations with Napa State Hospital to take on acute-care patients from the psychiatric facility that could increase patient volume by as much as 10 percent and add a significant source of revenue.

The negotiations come as Sonoma Valley is undergoing leadership transitions.

Earlier this month, Kelly Mather replaced Carl Gerlach, who retired, as the hospital’s chief executive officer, and Chief Financial Officer Tim Noakes recently accepted a position in the Central Valley with Sutter Health.

Talks between the two hospitals have been ongoing since April 2009, and Mr. Noakes, who will remain with Sonoma Valley until Aug. 11, said a contract could be reached within 30 to 60 days. Both hospitals could benefit significantly, he said, and the 83-bed acute-care hospital could stand to see a six-figure dollar amount from providing the care for the new patients. An exact dollar amount has yet to be determined and could fluctuate depending on patient flow, Mr. Noakes said. Sonoma Valley had over 75,000 treatments through fiscal 2010.

Napa State currently contracts with Queen of the Valley Medical Center, also in Napa, for similar services. A partnership with Sonoma Valley would not replace that contract, but Napa State said it anticipates sending 200 to 300 patients a year to SVH.

Sonoma Valley would provide services that Napa State does not offer. Napa State has as a skilled nursing facility, but traumas and other serious medical emergencies are not treated at the hospital, which provides services to more than 1,300 patients on an ongoing basis and had an average daily census of 1,153 in fiscal 2009 and 2010.

“This will be a very positive economic impact,” Mr. Noakes said. “The revenues will exceed the cost of any patient volume. At the same time, Napa State will see a reduction in their costs by sending patients. We’re both state entities, and this could save some cost to both Napa and Sonoma.”

Napa State would be responsible for transporting the patients, who will all be individually evaluated before any transfer. Sonoma Valley would not take on patients suffering from trauma or other severe medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest.

“If it’s life threatening as defined by either Napa State or by the EMT staff, the patient will go to Queen of the Valley,” which is a level III trauma center, or another appropriate hospital, Mr. Noakes said.

But for patients with other acute-care needs, Mr. Noakes said Sonoma Valley is well-equipped to handle more patients, and the needs of Napa State patients won’t be much different than the care already provided.

In a similar partnership effort, Mr. Noakes said the hospital has received a proposal from the Marin Healthcare District regarding a possible collaboration.

“They’ve put forward a proposal, and now it’s our turn to respond,” he said, adding “the benefit of a strong relationship with Marin is clearly in the millions of dollars,” though exact details are still being ironed out and that number could change depending on what sort of agreement is reached.

Regarding his departure, Mr. Noakes said his main reasoning for accepting the job in the Central Valley was to be closer to home and his family, who live near Modesto. He started with Sonoma Valley last September. In his new role, he will oversee financial matters at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital and Memorial Hospital Los Banos.