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Sonoma County Gazette
Sonoma West Medical Center

Sonoma West Medical Center Update

Aug 2, 2017


By Gail Thomas

It is a rare opportunity for any organization to be able to both address serious community needs while also reinventing itself for success. Sonoma West Medical Center has just such an opportunity—and has been looking for this opportunity for several months.

Since February  Sonoma West Medical Center has added strong new leadership in the persons of Interim CEO John Peleuses, Chief Nursing Officer Barbara Vogelsang, Laboratory Manger Portia Diez, and several excellent additions to our clinical staff. We have been gearing up for new lines of service which should help stabilize the financial base for our hospital while allowing us to continue our excellent clinical care in all our current departments. 

To that end, early in the year SWMC and the District (PDHCD) began investigating service opportunities that would provide medical assistance for people abusing substances. We talked to a consultant in California who advised specifically that we look into expanding our lab to include major toxicology services and consider inpatient detox services. Unfortunately, our first foray was not successful but in further investigation, we did find and come to final terms with another. After much discussion and much legal negotiation, SWMC has engaged Aaron Durall to assist with this transition by not only adding service lines but also supporting and expanding our present service lines of an acute care hospital with an emergency department.

To be very clear, the objective is to ADD lines of service while both maintaining and improving/growing existing service of an acute care hospital with an emergency department, pharmacy, lab, imaging, intensive care, and a medical/surgical ward. We want to provide a full-service hospital for our community and to add services which include a toxicology lab and a future detox inpatient program.

Our discussions with Durall has led us to discussions with Sonoma County Public Health Department, who approve and encourage our efforts. Part of having such a program is being able to provide the laboratory work which is used to test for dependency. We have identified an area on the hospital campus, formerly used by the Foundation, as appropriate for a toxicology laboratory and have begun equipping it and training staff. It is in full operation as of the end of July.

We plan to provide a much needed toxicology service in our county and clinical detox service in the hospital for patients who need it. Physicians ordering toxicology testing now need to send their requests to a lab that does such testing; California physicians have limited options and we plan to provide a good lab service here locally so that we would be their lab of choice.

In our ongoing efforts to provide an excellent medical facility, we are expanding our programs and know our District will get behind a program which has benefits for our community and can keep our hospital sustainable to serve our community. We have a hospital which has recently and historically scored THE HIGHEST patient satisfaction scores in Northern California. We know we can count on your support.


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