The Marin-Sonoma IPA announced its name is now Meritage Medical Network, citing a need to identify itself beyond specific geographic areas as it charts future growth while signaling a first step to becoming an accountable care organization, or ACO.

“Strategically, it doesn’t make sense any more for our name to be tied to a geography,” said Joel Criste, chief executive officer. “In addition, we want to emphasize our network — we are not only a group of physicians. We are a network of physicians, nurses, clinical and administrative staff, hospitals surgery centers, urgent care centers, rehabilitation facilities, wellness classes educators and more.”

The newly named medical network cited two additional factors: the changing health care landscape, noting that physicians are increasingly joining larger groups and aligning with hospitals and other health systems, much of it being driven by the Affordable Care Act, and possible expansion eastward.

“We are looking at expanding further east, into Napa for now,” spokeswoman Marcy Norenius said.

Mr. Criste noted the evolving environment for physicians.

“The ‘individual practice association’ part of our name just does not tell the whole story anymore,” Mr. Criste said, adding that coordinated care  systems are no longer solely tied to HMOs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has established accountable care organizations as part of the ACA, and the Meritage Medical Network has stated in the past that it intends on becoming an ACO, which are aimed at better coordination between providers to reduce costly, redundant hospitalizations. Mr. Criste has previously said the network would seek the designation by 2013.

“As a practicing physician I see tremendous value in the sharing  of information in real time,” said David Andrew, Meritage’s medical director. “The way Meritage Medical Network works together provides the best possible health outcomes for our patients.”

In addition to contracting with HMO plans for its member physicians,  the medical network offers continuing medical education classes, patient education classes, clinical management programs and help with adoption of electronic health records.

This item was originally published online Aug. 29.***

Mark  Zielazinski has joined Marin General Hospital as chief information and technology integration officer and will again be reporting to CEO Lee Domanico, for whom he worked at El Camino Hospital before Mr. Domanico left in 2006. 

Soma Bulusu will continue his role as vice president of information technology at Marin General, a position he’s held since the hospital’s transition back to district control, and will report to Mr. Zielazinski

Since early 2010, Mr. Zielazinski had been serving as chief information officer at Alameda County Medical Center, where his responsibilities included information systems, telecommunications, health information management and bio-medical engineering. Prior to that he was CIO at Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera. He was CIO at El Camino from 2001 to 2006, during which time he was a member of the three-person steering committee that laid the groundwork for El Camino’s successful design and construction of a new $500 million new hospital.

Marin General, likewise, is preparing to float a bond measure that will cover about half the cost of a $500 million rebuild of its 235-bed facility, which must be completed by 2020, per state seismic regulations. ***

The Palm Drive Health Care District  recently voted to approve Tom Harlan as Palm Drive Hospital’s new chief executive officer.

Mr. Harlan will begin work on Sept. 4, according to the district that oversees the 37-bed hospital. He will earn a base salary of $237,000 per year.

Mr. Harlan most recently worked as principal at Harlan Healthcare Consulting in Orinda and later Sebastopol. Before that, he served for nine years as president and chief administrative officer of John Muir Medical Center-Concord Campus (formerly Mt. Diablo Medical Center) a $320 million, 254-bed community hospital in Contra Costa County.

The health care district said Mr. Harlan is credited with the successful financial turnaround of the Concord hospital, where he developed a long-range master plan that led to a $170 million construction project, and overseeing a facility that became ranked as one of the top five hospitals in California for cardiac surgery.

Prior to joining John Muir, Mr. Harlan served eight years as CEO  at Chinese Hospital and Chinese Community Health Plan in San Francisco and 18 years as a senior executive at Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center (now California Pacific Medical Center, a Sutter Health affiliate) in San Francisco.

Mr. Harlan and his wife, Ruth, are proprietors of August Truth, a small production boutique wine brand founded in 2007 that specializes in chardonnay and pinot noir.

Mr. Harlan will take the reins from Rick Reid, who served as interim CEO since March. Mr. Reid is also the hospital’s CFO and will continue in that position Late last year, Palm Drive Hospital followed Sonoma Valley Hospital in aligning itself with Marin General Hospital, a larger district hospital in Greenbrae.***

Kaiser Permanente's Medical Center in Vacaville broke ground last week on a helipad that the hospital said will eventually be the largest to serve Solano County.

Construction on the helipad will begin on Sept. 4 and should be completed by November of this year, according to Kaiser.

The Solano County Emergency Medical Services Agency approved Kaiser's plans to provide level III trauma services in October 2011. The Vacaville center will be just the second trauma center for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, following the South Sacramento Medical Center, which in 2009 obtained a level II trauma designation.

The level III center in Vacaville now provides a range of services,  including emergency resuscitation, surgery, and intensive care, which are open to every resident.

The HMO's Napa-Solano region has grown to more than 240,000 members. It also provides care to about 13,000 residents  through the Partnership HealthPlan and 3,400 people through Healthy Families/SKIP program. ***

Bill Boerum, currently treasurer of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District and in his sixth year on the board of directors, will be serving another four years because only he and two others filed for the three seats that were up for election this year. Since no one else filed by this past the extended deadline, there will be no election on Nov. 6, Mr. Boerum said.

The district will not have to pay the estimated $50,000 cost to conduct an election. Also filing for the seats were incumbent Sharon Nevins and newcomer Jane Hirsch. All three will be sworn in for their terms in December.

Incumbent Peter Hohorst, current board chair, filed for a two year seat, the unexpired term of David Chambers who resigned a year ago. Likewise no one else filed for the two year seat and therefore Mr.  Hohorst will fill that position.

Ms. Nevins is the former chief financial officer of the Public Health Department of the city and county of San Francisco. She was appointed a year ago to fill an interim vacancy resulting from another member's resignation.  Ms. Hirsch, a member of the district’s Quality Committee, is the former chief nurse executive of UCSF Medical Center....

Submit items for this column to dan.verel@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4257.