The ER will remain open until mid-September.
Officials from the state licensing board have given notice to the hospital district that the company taking over management of Sonoma West Medical Center is not licensed to do so, pushing the start date back to an undetermined time.
The Palm Drive Health Care District Board of Directors met on Tuesday to discuss possible amendments to the ten-year agreement with American Advanced Management Group to resolve the issue, but no action was taken. The board will continue to seek resolutions and will meet again on Friday at 1 p.m.
According to Alanna Brogan, PDHCD executive director, AAMG had not received final approval to manage hospitals when PDHCD signed the agreement. AAMG had sent an application to the state to manage and were operating under the assumption that it was approved since they had been managing another facility, Glenn Medical Center, for the last 6 months without state intervention.
Brogan said the primary reason for the lack of approval was paperwork that needed to be submitted by AAMG and clauses in the Glenn agreement.
“These clauses trigger an AG(attorney general) review of the document. State licensing could not approve the agreements until the AG approval is completed,” Brogan said.
The changeover from SWMC to a new facility comes after a 4-1 vote by the district’s board of directors on Aug. 17. AAMG will transition the hospital from short-term acute care with an emergency department to a long-term acute care with an urgent care facility.
The agreement was signed with the assumption that the contract with Sonoma West Medical Center, Inc. would be terminated on Aug. 25 and Sonoma Specialty Hospital would take on management on Aug. 26.
SWMC staff then pushed back the date to Sept. 1. With the new licensing issue, PDHCD staff said they aren’t sure if a transition can realistically take place on that date.
“They are not licensed to manage a hospital,” said the district’s attorney Bill Arnone. “I’m not sure I’m going to ask them to start on the first.”
Board member Jim Horn voiced concern about financial responsibility for hospital operations as the district is currently in contract with both SWMC, Inc. and AAMG. Arnone said the two management companies are in collaboration.
Barbara Vogelsang, SWMC Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Operating Officer, said she would feel more comfortable if the management transition happened on the beginning of a new pay period, Sept. 9.
With SWMC’s bank account dwindling, Horn asked if the hospital could make it 12 more days.
“We will figure it out,” Vogelsang said.
PDHCD board members encouraged SWMC to ask for a loan from AAMG to bridge the gap in transition. No formal financial agreement is known to exist at this time.
Friday’s special meeting will be held in the conference room at SWMC, 501 Petaluma Ave.