SONOMA -- The Sonoma Valley Healthcare District Board of Directors voted to join the Prima Medical Foundation, a nonprofit that provides management services to physicians. The foundation was formed earlier this year by Marin General Hospital, Marin IPA and Prima Medical Group to help attract physicians and maintain hospital competitiveness.

The foundation works in conjunction with Prima Medical Group, a physician-owned for-profit organization that hires and maintains physicians. Prima Medical Group, founded in 2005, has practices in Terra Linda, Novato, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Larkspur, Greenbrae and Sonoma. Sonoma Valley Hospital had a handful of Prima physicians practicing and has attracted more since the formation of the foundation.

The health care district said the membership with strengthen its "ability to retain new, quality physicians and ensure its ability to fulfill its mission to the community."

Sonoma Valley Hospital CFO Rob Feldman presented the foundation proposal to the board at the group's Dec. 2 meeting, indicating the primary purpose for joining was to help with retention of physicians. He said retaining physicians after costly recruitment efforts has been disappointing, and the $100,000 a month expense for recruiting will either be less or comparable.