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Officials see increased demand for primary care with health bill

SANTA ROSA – St. Joseph Health System’s Annadel Medical Group announced that seven new primary care physicians will join its medical practice, marking the largest single increase the group has seen since it was founded in 2008.

At the same time, an additional five primary care doctors are “actively negotiating contracts to join” the group, according to St. Joseph, which is hoping to expand the practice even further in the coming years.

The addition of the seven physicians marks the second time in five months that Annadel has expanded, and it now has a total of 25 providers, 22 of whom are physicians along with three nurse practitioners.

The growth of such groups throughout the North Bay has accelerated rapidly and will likely continue as medical providers attempt to adapt to a changing health care landscape. Hospitals and other health providers are expecting an influx of patients with the recent health overhaul, and as such many are investing heavily into physician recruitment and retention.

“With the passing of health care reform, there will be an even greater need for primary care physicians and specialists in our area,” said Vanessa deGier, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph. “So the goal is foremost to continue to grow the primary care practice of Annadel – the family practice and internal medicine in particular – as well as to bring onboard specialists to be able to provide care from routine preventative check-ups to leading-edge surgeries in a variety of areas.”

The newly added physicians include four doctors who have treated patients in Sonoma County for 20 to 30 years, according to St. Joseph. They will be joined by a pediatrician, an internist and a family physician.

The new physicians include:

n        Dr. Gary Greensweig, a family practice physician in Santa Rosa since 1979 and chief medical officer of St. Joseph Health System-Sonoma County.

n        Dr. Eki Abrams, an internal medicine physician who just recently completed her residency at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.

n        Dr. Heather Iezza, a pediatrician who served as a pediatric hospitalist since 2007 with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

n         Dr. Gary Johanson, a family practice physician in Santa Rosa since 1975 who specializes in hospice and palliative medicine and who is the medical director of Memorial Hospice and the James B. & Billie Keegan Palliative Care Center at Memorial Hospital.

n        Dr. Jenny Marie Sullivan, a family practice physician from the Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser in Santa Rosa.

n        Dr. Cynthia Morris, a family practice physician in Santa Rosa since 1989.

n        Dr. Herbert Brosbe, a family practice physician since 1978 in Santa Rosa.

Ms. deGier said the medical group is expected to grow by 10 physicians a year over the next three years.

The Annadel Group, a locally owned physician group, contracts exclusively with St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, a medical practice foundation with more than 400 providers that practice with seven separate medical groups affiliated with St. Joseph Health System, including Annadel in Sonoma County as well as Queen of the Valley Associates in Napa County.

“This expansion demonstrates the group’s ongoing commitment to broadening the base of primary care providers in the community and expanding access for patients,” said C.R. Burke, president and chief operating officer of St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare.