Healdsburg, Sebastopol hospital districts to appeal Sutter ruling

SANTA ROSA -- Two Sonoma County health care districts say they plan on appealing a recent court ruling that mostly sided with Sutter Health over objections to Sutter's new $284 million hospital, now under construction just north of Santa Rosa.

Healdsburg District Hospital and the Palm Drive Healthcare District also laid out grounds for a potential settlement, calling for the county of Sonoma to create a countywide health care provider planning process.

Meanwhile, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors last week added additional measures for Sutter to further offset greenhouse gas emissions from the construction of its new 82-bed hospital next to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.  Although the recent court ruling mostly sided with Sutter, Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau faulted the county for its approval of the hospital on two conditions, one of which said the closure of Sutter's current, seismically unfit Chanate facility could not count as an offsetting measure.

The North Sonoma County Healthcare District, which oversees Healdsburg Hospital, the Palm Drive Healthcare District and an environmental nonprofit, San Rafael-based Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, had challenged the county's certification of Sutter's environmental impact review of the project. The parties alleged that the EIR did not meet the California Environmental Quality Act, while also saying  the delivery of health care  would be negatively impacted.

The board approved a measure that requires Sutter to work on developing a public shuttle from the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) station in Santa Rosa, when it is built, to link northern Sonoma County with the commuter rail.  Sutter Spokeswoman Lisa Amador said the hospital has always intended on working with SMART and that the new ruling wouldn't affect construction.

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