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Sonoma Valley Hospital to affiliate with UCSF

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Sonoma Valley Hospital is set to sign an affiliation agreement with UCSF Health. The hospital’s board approved the agreement at its Thursday meeting while UCSF’s board is expected to approve the agreement at its March meeting.

“I believe this is going to take Sonoma Valley Hospital to the next level,” said Sonoma Valley Hospital CEO Kelly Mather.

The agreement would include services that Sonoma Valley Hospital currently doesn’t offer but UCSF does.

UCSF is the top-ranked medical center in the state and one of the top five in the nation, according to a survey conducted last year by the U.S. News & World Report.

Mather said the affiliation came about because UCSF is building a network around the Bay Area. Currently, it has affiliations with 18 hospitals and three major physician groups in the North Bay, the East Bay and San Francisco.

In the North Bay, it has an affiliation with Marin General and a partnership with Santa Rosa Memorial.

“One of the first initiatives will be a medical director,” Mather said. Sonoma Valley Hospital’s current medical director, Dr. Robert Cohen, is retiring and UCSF will provide a replacement. “The medical director, who is also UCSF’s medical director, will be here five days a month initially,” Mather said.

The medical director will provide oversight for quality outcomes, serve as a bridge between Mather and the medical staff, and develop initiatives at the hospital.

Under the agreement, the hospital and UCSF Health will work together to provide high-quality health care in Sonoma Valley by creating a comprehensive, sustainable and integrated health care network to serve the needs of Sonoma Valley residents, according to SVH officials.

“This agreement, with its close ties to a world-class health care system, strengthens our ability to serve our community, including providing access to the latest technology and treatment options,” Mather said.

“At the same time, we’re able to continue operating as an independent district hospital,” she added.

Hospital officials said it was too early in the agreement for any budget implications to be known.

Sonoma Valley Hospital has had an informal working relationship with UCSF Health for a number of years. But it was strengthened in 2015 when the hospital joined Canopy Health, which is an accountable care network of independent hospitals and three physician groups around the Bay Area.

“We started talking about an affiliation in October 2017,” Mather said. “That’s a fast pace for UCSF.”

“They were our first choice,” she added.

Included in the affiliation goals are:

Combining the expertise and resources of UCSF and Sonoma Valley Hospital to share best practices and enhance the quality of services in the Valley;

Coordinating services for out-of-area transport of sick patients and facilitating the transfer of patients back to the hospital when they require less intensive care;

Enhancing the availability of physician and administrative services in the Valley through joint program development;

Increasing patient, family and community satisfaction with patient care in the community.

The hospital has been looking to align with a larger hospital for some time, said Mather.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better and more prestigious partner than UCSF Health because of their size, reputation and quality of care,” Mather said. “They will be an outstanding partner, providing specialized services and resources as needed, enabling us to continue providing high-quality health care at the community level.”

Email Bill at bill.hoban@sonomanews.com.