In the looming shadow of the Measure B vote, a celebration was held on Saturday that reaffirmed, for those who wondered, the essential community qualities that make Sonoma a special place.
With the new emergency room and surgical wing as a backdrop, a distinguished assemblage gathered outside Sonoma Valley Hospital to pay tribute to the extraordinary struggle and the triumphant, $46 million effort that went into saving the hospital.
There were times, in the wake of the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the subsequent state legislation mandating dramatically higher seismic safety standards for California hospitals, when it seemed doubtful that Sonoma Valley’s only emergency room would survive.
Because, as any healthcare administrator will tell you, emergency rooms never pay for themselves and, without a full-service hospital to carry the financial load, ER becomes a medical necessity no one can afford.
But seismic safety was only one of the challenges confronting our hospital. A central heating and cooling plant, dating from deep into a previous century, was (in some cases literally) held together with duct tape and bailing wire.