$284 million Sutter hospital to begin; new Kaiser tower

Nearly every sector within health care in the North Bay is undergoing rapid expansion, reflecting a nationwide trend that shows little sign of a respite.

Hospitals are expanding or being rebuilt entirely. Outpatient facilities continue to crop up as a broader patient base is sought by some providers. Physicians groups are racing to recruit more doctors to their ranks to ensure purchasing power while maintaining a competitive advantage. And federally qualified health centers, with a significant increase in federal funding and a clearer role in light of health care reform, are consistently doubling in size in an effort to treat an influx of patients.

The following is just a sampling of the quickly growing health care companies and providers across the North Bay, from corporate giants to rural clinics.


Sacramento-based Sutter Health just weeks ago received final approval for a new hospital in Santa Rosa that will replace the aging Chanate Road facility, a project expected to cost $284 million through four years of construction. Sutter said the construction and permitting process will produce thousands of well-paying jobs, as it will seek as many local companies as possible for construction and design.

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center Santa Rosa will open a five-story, 146,400-square-foot wing at its existing location in October, marking the end of seven years of planning and construction for the expansion that will add 50 beds to 117 licensed beds already in place.

The expansion nearly doubles the size of the current hospital, which is expected, as are most health care providers, to see an increase in patient volume as more people have access to care and insurance following the health care overhaul.

Rounding out the three major providers in Sonoma County, St. Joseph Health System is in the process of building a new urgent care clinic in Windsor as it expands such services to meet what it anticipates to be a growing demand in outpatient and preventative care.

The new center, 4,500 square feet at 6580 Hembree Lane, is expected to see 6,400 patient visits in the first year and is expected to open by November.

Health Centers

A major theme of the year has been the rapid expansion of federally qualified health centers. Chief among such centers is the network of eight Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, formerly Southwest, which will open a new, 42,500-square-foot Fountaingrove location in November. The newest of the health centers will take on an additional 9,500 patients on top of the 25,000 already served. It is the second-largest provider of primary care in Santa Rosa, behind Kaiser.

Similarly, the Petaluma Health Center recently broke ground on an expansion that will double both the size of the center as well as patient volume. The purchase of a 53,000-square-foot vacant building on North McDowell Boulevard, through a combination of loans, backed bonds and federal stimulus dollars, will allow for approximately 30,000 patients a year when it opens for operations next June.

Yet another network of health centers is seeing significant expansion – the West County Health Centers, of which there are five located throughout Western Sonoma County.

Physician Groups

Physician-owned and Santa Rosa-based Redwood Regional Medical Group recently joined the United Network of Texas-based US Oncology, linking its 300 employees with more than 1,000 oncologists nationwide.

Redwood currently has six oncology practices throughout the North Bay, in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. US Oncology has more than 1,300 physicians.