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Sonoma West Medical Center Celebrates Opening

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Sonoma West Medical Center Celebrates Opening

By Jane Rogan, Director of Communications

Looking out over the hundreds of West County supporters happy to be shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors in the Sebastopol Community Center to celebrate the Sonoma West Medical Center [SWMC] being in business, it became clear that our hospital is a living, breathing symbol of what makes a healthy community. Local restaurants donated their fabulous food, and lined the walls of the community room with their cuisine. Wineries and breweries donated their libations, and local musicians donated their talent. The Sonoma West Medical Foundation combined efforts with the SWMC Auxiliary and hospital staff to create the event. But it was the public who made the event the celebration it was.   

Peter Coyotes, Sebastopol actor and authorActor and author, Peter Coyote, a Sebastopol resident, told everyone,” This is what community looks like. Children dancing, musicians playing, people gathering, laughing, enjoying the warmth and generosity shown here tonight.”  Coyote went on to say why he thought the hospital was so vitally important.  “When you need the hospital, you really need it. This community hospital is as central to healthy community life as anything else.  In fact, it represents healthy community life. By supporting the hospital you are supporting the community itself.”   

Much Needed Medical Services

At SWMC, the stories pour in daily about why the community has needed its hospital.  Ambulances bring patients from Bodega Bay, Guerneville, Forestville, Sebastopol and Santa Rosa. Every day now our surgeons perform life-saving surgeries and life-improving procedures.  Last week many patients from Sutter hospital were re-directed to SWMC due to overflow. Last month a homeless man had hand surgery, and was – after much research by our RN Navigators -- admitted to a convalesant care facility for 30 days to avoid sure infection on the street. Soon, after physical therapy, he will be able to use his hand and work again. 

The day after the Guerneville Community Health Clinic fire disaster two Russian River ambulances drove up to the Emergency Department at Sonoma West Medical Center with patients who were admitted for treatment. No one knows if this was a cause and effect event, but knowing if our doors were not open these elderly people would have had to travel farther for medical treatment, we were very glad to be able to receive them.

Since SWMC opened on October 30, 2015 – we have admitted as many as 57 people a day to our Emergency Department, OR, ICU and outpatient services.  Some people have been rushed into life-saving surgeries; others have been admitted for longer term observation and treatment; still others have been stitched, mended or medically treated and sent home. 

Building Healthy Community

Today, Sunday the 17th, we have El Molino students Anamaria Morales, Maddy Richard, Grace Kan, Kira Kamrath and Kasey Babcock using the facility to shoot a video for their AP English Literature and Composition class. Anamarie told me, “We’re shooting the sequence from novel, The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison where the main character is in the hospital. It is, what we call, the rebirth scene.  We really appreciate being able to come here and do this.” 

Kasey, Kira, Grace, Anamarie, Maddy from El Molino High SchoolOn January 20, Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, a high school youth program sponsored by S.A.Y. are spending their full school day at Sonoma West Medical Center learning about the Healthcare Industry, and what it takes to work in Healthcare. Lauren Taylor, Santa Rosa & West County Class Coordinator for Tomorrow's Leaders Today, contacted SWMC to see if we could accommodate the class and participate in the lesson plan.  Sandra DeBella Bodley, RN, Ed D is a member of the Palm Drive District Board as well as the SWMCI Governing Board, and is the lead coordinator of the day program.

More and more community programs are being scheduled to take place at SWMC.  From senior programs teaching fall prevention to more long-term, in depth programs under development, SWMC is a robust health resource to West Sonoma County.  For more information about these programs, call SWMC at (707) 823-8511, or go online to our website at

Community Support

Like any community hospital, Sonoma West Medical Center relies on community members for financial and volunteer support. ‘We have been incredibly blessed by all of the support we have already received’ Ray Hino, CEO said at the party ‘and we still need everyone’s help going forward.’ Hino emphasized that with the hospital now open and business growing rapidly, SWMC has ongoing needs for capital to bridge until Medicare begins paying for patient care sometime in the next month or two.

To this end, SWMC has created a funding mechanism that allows community members to provide secured lending pooled with others in the area. ‘This is similar to the 35 for Palm Drive LLC that was used in 1999 to purchase the hospital.’ Hino said. He also pointed out that the SWMC Auxilliary plays an important role in making the hospital viable by volunteering their services every day of the week.

If you would like to know how you can help, please call Sonoma West Medical Center today at (707)