If one had to dream it up, he would be hard pressed to match it, a $284 million, state-of-the-art medical facility close to the area’s central transportation corridor that will create hundreds of high-paying jobs starting in a couple of months.
Now that is a stimulus.
The project is the new 82-bed Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa next to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa.
Last week, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors signaled its unanimous support for the project after an exhausting environmental and policy review. As letters to the editor on the opposite page demonstrate, the hospital has broad-based support from medical and community groups. And we encourage the board to give the project the final and timely approvals it needs to move forward. Sonoma County cannot risk the potentially catastrophic consequences of missing an October deadline to comply with state seismic regulations.
The remaining opposition to the project centers on the size of the hospital – it’s too small, they say – or the location – it’s too far from the city center.
The size of the Sutter facility has been vigorously examined and is consistent with national, state and local trends of lower hospital utilization.
As for the location, put aside for the moment the logistical challenges of locating a modern hospital from scratch near the urban core. With helicopter and other congestion impacts it would be next to impossible.
Meanwhile, the Wells Fargo Center site has freeway access and is within a few miles of the current Sutter Chanate facility and a very short distance from Sutter’s doctor’s group, Kaiser Permanente and the new Santa Rosa Community Health Centers Vista center at Fountaingrove.
With the addition of the Sutter hospital, the north Santa Rosa area will have the highest concentration of medical services of anywhere in the county.
Meanwhile, Sutter remains committed to meeting its health care access requirements for the uninsured. It has done so even as it has lost tens of millions of dollars in Sonoma County over the last decade, according to state records.
Sutter has now committed to investing hundreds of millions more in Sonoma County and its residents.
We should welcome its willingness to do so.