December 30, 2016
Election, transportation top Petaluma stories of 2016

National and global events, dominated by the U.S. presidential election, combined to make 2016 a monumental year. In Petaluma, the local election had less of an impact, but certainly became one of the top stories of the year.


The severe drought that captured headlines for four years finally ended in 2016 as significant rainfall soaked the region. Even more significantly, Petaluma’s flood wall project, finally completed at the beginning of the year, did its job and no major flooding was reported.


Operations at Petaluma Valley Hospital, the city’s lone acute care facility, went through a rocky 2016, leaving the future uncertain in the new year. Longtime hospital operator St. Joseph Health abruptly pulled out of talks to continue running the facility, as local health care officials scrambled to find a successor.

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December 19, 2016
Petaluma stakeholders discuss drugs in schools

The introductions advanced through the room one-by-one, a group of around 60 attendees representing leaders in health care, community health, education, nonprofits, law enforcement and other interests that had assembled in Petaluma last week to discuss concerns over drug abuse by the city’s youth.


Next up was Gordon Stinson, a Petaluma father who knew those concerns all too well. “I lost one son to this disease,” said Stinson, whose 23-year-old son Matthew was found dead on the streets of Petaluma in September and was said to have a history of substance abuse problems.


Three years earlier, Stinson’s eldest son Bram, also 23 at the time, hanged himself at Petaluma’s D Street bridge.

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December 14, 2016
Assisted living leader joins health care district board

Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD) Wednesday appointed Becky Monday to its board of directors as a member at large.


Monday is the general manager and administrator of Petaluma’s Springfield Place Assisted Living Community. The district stated that Monday ran uncontested, filling the seat recently vacated by Dr. Robert Ostroff after his term concluded.


“Becky came to us with a sincere interest in the health of our community, an understanding of our community’s health care landscape and our need for long-term wellness support for multi-generational populations. She provides a fresh lens to our board as we continue to work through major decisions – most immediately vetting and recommending a new operator for Petaluma Valley Hospital. The community will benefit from her vast professional and personal experience, and we are thrilled to have her join our Board,” stated CEO Ramona Faith.

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December 5, 2016
New Sutter Health clinic planned for Petaluma

Sutter Health is opening its first medical office in Petaluma, expanding the health care provider’s footprint along the Highway 101 corridor.


The location at the Deer Creek Village shopping center off North McDowell Boulevard will be the company’s first “Sutter Walk-in Care” clinic in Sonoma County, said Lisa Amador, a regional spokeswoman for Sutter. It is the fourth for the company as a whole.


An opening date is not yet known, she said.

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November 22, 2016
Celebrations: Petaluma teens keep mom alive with CPR

Tena Jackson has no memory of the morning she died. The Petaluma educator only knows her two teenage daughters helped bring her back to life, despite their panic and fear.


Jackson, 52, suffered cardiac arrhythmia in April 2015, collapsing in her living room from sudden cardiac arrest. She was face down on the floor, initially with a sporadic pulse.


Her daughters, Emmy and Koko Stephens-Jackson, then 13 and 16, worked together, Emmy on the phone with a 911 operator and Koko performing CPR from her instructions.

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November 21, 2016
Petaluma Health Care District wins Healthiest Companies in the North Bay Award

Employee satisfaction through emphasis on wellness ranks high on the list of goals for the Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD).


“We believe that a healthy work environment is a major contributing factor to staff satisfaction and also enhances teamwork and morale,” said Erin Howseman, executive assistant and board clerk in charge of the wellness program.


“As an organization with a mission to improve the health and well-being of people in the lower half of Sonoma County, we are dedicated to modeling workplace behaviors that result in the same outcomes for our employees.”

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November 16, 2016
North Bay health care leaders detail problems, solutions

What’s working in health care, and what’s not?


Those in the system and those hired to make it better came together to share solutions Nov. 15 in Santa Rosa. The Business Journal’s Health Care Conference included several speakers as well as the presentation of the Healthiest Companies in the North Bay honors.


Ramona Faith, CEO PHCD

Overseeing hospitals isn’t what Petaluma Health Care District is all about, said Ramona Faith, CEO of the more than 65-year-old district. “We are about investing the dollars and resources into the programs and services that benefit our communities’ health.” Care provided by Petaluma Valley Hospital is only a small part of what the district does to keep people healthy. That’s because the environment they live in and how they behave play a much larger role in their health, she said. In addition to leasing out its hospitals, the district, which does not depend on tax revenue for support, has established outreach programs. For example, since 2010, district has funded Mothers Care, an innovative evidence-based screening and treatment program for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

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November 13, 2016
Petaluma Health Care District plans new hospital process

The public district that owns Petaluma’s only acute-care hospital is charting a new course after negotiations collapsed with a leading organization to run the facility, setting a new target of June 2017 for a public vote to approve an eventual new operator and contract.


The new timeline gives interested hospital companies until Jan. 31 to submit a final bid, and gives the Petaluma Health Care District, which owns the hospital, until March to chose their front-runner, said Ramona Faith, district CEO. Five operators had signed non-disclosure agreements in order to access in-depth data on the hospital as of Tuesday, an early sign of interest in a possible bid, Faith said.

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November 10, 2016
Petaluma Health Care District models initiatives, programs

Petaluma Health Care District in the past few years has established itself as a major presence in regional health care efforts.


One of 78 such districts in California, it partners with and engages community organizations. It was recognized in 2015 as Health Care District of the Year by the Association of California Healthcare Districts for its community work, and recently received a Jefferson Award, a national recognition system to highlight public service.


Faith said the district is successful because of the way she structured the Community Health Initiative of the Petaluma Area (CHIPA) with a cross-section of community members.

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November 9, 2016
Petaluma Health Care District Honored with 2016 Jefferson Award for Public Service

Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD) is thrilled to announce that it has been honored with the coveted Jefferson Award for Public Service from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.


Established in 1972, the award is given to outstanding organizations and individuals who have had a deep impact on the quality of life in the communities they serve. Previous national recipients include Oprah Winfrey, Cesar Chavez and Jimmy Carter. This year marked the 10th anniversary for the Sonoma County Jefferson Award program. PHCD’s Board of Directors and CEO Ramona Faith were presented with the award on Nov. 1.

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November 7, 2016 - News Brief
Petaluma Health Care District provides unique model

The Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD) is one of 78 health care districts in California.


The core mission of health care districts remains to ensure health and health care services are provided to the communities that created them.


Financially, PHCD operates a little differently than most as it does not rely on parcel taxes, which most do, for financial support. The district’s assets total $11 million, and revenue comes from the hospital lease payment from the operator, direct services, and investments.


“We’re unique in that we own Petaluma Valley Hospital (PVH), and lease out operations, which allows us to focus on community health programs,” said Ramona Faith, district CEO. “The district has really elevated its role and impact on community health by creating a model that brings together all sectors of the community to address greatest health needs in southern Sonoma County.”

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October 31, 2016
Journal names 20 Healthiest Companies of the North Bay

The North Business Journal announced 20 winners of the 2016 Healthiest Companies in the North Bay Awards. The Business Journal recognized companies for going above and beyond in encouraging and enabling their employees to stay active and healthy at work and home.


“Over the years I have had recipients tell me this award has spurred them on to create and improve wellness programs inside their organizations and that, as a result, they have had employees make life-changing decisions to lose weight or quit smoking,” said Business Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger. “That is humbling and at the same time these stories motivate us to keep this award going,” he said. “Every year more and more companies are getting more and more serious about employee wellness, putting written policies in place and even evaluating managers on meeting employee health goals.”


Six-time winners of the award include: Kaiser Permanente, Keysight Technologies, St. Joseph, W. Bradley Electric; five time winners: BPM, Exchange Bank, Ghilotti Bros., Inc.; and Petaluma Health Care District and Workrite Ergonomics are three-time winners.

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October 20, 2016
Details emerge in hospital talks

Birth control key to collapse of talks between Catholic St. Joseph, public district


As talks between St. Joseph Health and the Petaluma Health Care District over an operating agreement for Petaluma Valley Hospital ramped up earlier this year, women’s reproductive health services emerged as a key sticking point that ultimately led to the collapse of negotiations and cast uncertainty over the future of Petaluma’s only acute care facility.


Officials from St. Joseph and the public health care district shared new details about the negotiations that ended abruptly on Oct. 5 when the Catholic healthcare provider pulled out of the talks. St. Joseph Health has been operating the hospital under a 20-year lease set to expire in January.


The district had selected St. Joseph as its top choice from among four bidders to continue operations, and had been engaged in talks with the company for the past year. But ultimately the two sides could not agree on financial terms, a non-compete clause and reproductive health services, according to officials on both sides. One of the main issu

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October 13, 2016
Program helps find missing elderly

When Petaluma biochemist and environmental leader Gerald Moore was found last May after being lost for more than 24 hours, Petaluma police were able to locate him using techniques they currently employ under a program established to make it easier to locate missing elderly loved ones.


Moore, 77, was found unharmed by police near Frates and Old Adobe Road after an extensive community search. The Safe Return program, started a year ago, organizes information to aid police and the community in locating those who suffer from varying forms of memory loss, whether due to injury, medications or dementia.


Jennifer Pritchard, community education outreach and volunteer coordinator for the Petaluma Police Department, said Safe Return is vital to creating an efficient process for finding a person who has gone missing and cannot help themselves.

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October 13, 2016
Health Center gets top rating

Petaluma Health Center and Rohnert Park Health Center scored among the top 1 percent of more than 1,600 community health centers in the nation, according to a recent survey.


Petaluma Health Center underwent an operational site visit and a federal review conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to assess the health center’s clinical operations, administrative and financial management processes.


Following a comprehensive evaluation of Petaluma Health Center’s services and clinical, fiscal and administrative policies, procedures and protocols, a team of three federal reviewers concluded that the health center met all of the 19 Health Center Program federal requirements. Only 1 percent of the 1,600 federally-qualified health centers achieve 100 percent compliance, according to Pedro Toledo, chief admin-istrative officer of the health center.


Petaluma Health Center staff

October 8, 2016
PD Editorial: Charting a new path for Petaluma Valley Hospital

The partnership between Petaluma Valley and Santa Rosa Memorial hospitals started with a feisty and very public debate about women’s reproductive services and the future of health care in Sonoma County. Twenty years later, that partnership has ended rather quietly — and, for many observers, unexpectedly.


St. Joseph Health, a not-for-profit Catholic health care organization that owns Memorial and Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, assumed management of publicly owned Petaluma Valley Hospital in 1997. It was selected this year over three other bidders to continue running the south county’s only acute-care hospital.


This week, however, St. Joseph and the Petaluma Health Care District abruptly ended negotiations on a 20-year lease renewal.

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October 5, 2016 - News Brief
Petaluma Health Care District and St. Joseph Health End Lease Negotiations for Petaluma Valley Hospital

The Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD) and St. Joseph Health (SJH) have officially ended negotiations regarding the future lease and operations of Petaluma Valley Hospital. Multiple factors influenced this decision, including the inability to reach a workable agreement.


PHCD and SJH will now concentrate efforts on working collaboratively on a transition plan. Leadership from both entities anticipates the transition of hospital operations from SJH to take several months, with SJH agreeing to remain in full-service operation until Sept. 1, 2017 or a mutually agreed-upon transition date to another operator.


No changes to services or care delivery are expected during the transition period and Petaluma Valley Hospital is fully prepared to continue meeting the needs of patients and their families.

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October 1, 2016 - News Brief
New screening guidelines for breast cancer prevention fuel debate over mammograms

For decades, enduring a mammogram was a rite of passage for women turning 40.


Absent symptoms or genetics that would trigger screening at an earlier age, women knew reaching the four-decade mark meant they’d soon face getting squeezed in a machine for their own good.


But evolving recommendations from the American Cancer Society and from an influential federal task force on preventive medicine now hold that it’s better to wait until age 45 or even 50 to start having routine mammograms

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Radiologist Dr. Gretchen Smith records audio notes as she reviews a patient's mammography images at Sutter Medical Center's Breast Care Center

September 9, 2016 - News Brief
Taxpayers win bid to leave district

Russian River taxpayers weary of supporting the struggling Sonoma West Medical Center won a crucial victory this week when a key county commission backed their effort to exit the Palm Drive Health Care District, which provides the hospital with important financial backing.


The Sonoma County Local Area Formation Commission — after hearing arguments for and against the “detachment” effort — voted unanimously Wednesday evening to let property owners in three school districts in the Russian River area leave the 16-year-old hospital district.

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September 8, 2016 - News Brief
Health clinic moves to prominent locale downtown

St. Joseph Health has relocated a former clinic on the outskirts of Petaluma to a high-profile location along East Washington Street, a revamped facility that will eventually offer expanded hours over the typical doctor’s office.


The new office at 905 East Washington St. is part of a broader strategy for the health care provider in Sonoma County, where a handful of “after-hours” clinics are offering primary care during the evenings and weekends, said Bob Just, chief operating officer for St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare in Northern California, which operates physicians offices for St. Joseph in the region.


The expanded hours are expected to ramp up later this year, he said. “There’s really nothing open after 5 p.m. except for the emergency room, and we knew that wasn’t always the best place for people to receive their care,” Just said.

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