Providence agrees to invest $12.3 million to support women's health, behavioral health and community benefit services

June 27, 2024 Providence News Team

Providence Agrees to Invest $12.3M to Support Women’s Health, Behavioral Health and Community Benefit Services in Southern Sonoma County In Lieu of Re-Opening Petaluma Valley Hospital Family Birthing Center

On June 26, the Healthy Petaluma District Board of Directors approved an amendment to the Asset Purchase Agreement between Healthy Petaluma District and Providence, the owner and operator of Petaluma Valley Hospital, which will eliminate the requirement for Providence to maintain the Family Birthing Center at Petaluma Valley Hospital for the remainder of its five-year commitment. The Family Birthing Center has been temporarily closed since May 2023. 

As part of this agreement Providence will provide a $9.9M investment to the Healthy Petaluma District to support women’s health and behavioral health services in southern Sonoma County. In addition, Providence will work collaboratively with the Healthy Petaluma Board to expand its Community Benefit Program investment through calendar year 2030 by $2.4M. Allocation of these community benefit dollars will be made by a new joint committee comprised of Healthy Petaluma and Providence representatives and a community member.

“This historic investment agreement underscores our commitment to the City of Petaluma and southern Sonoma County,” said Garry Olney, chief executive for Providence Northern California. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the Healthy Petaluma Board of Directors to identify ways in which we can support programs that have a substantial positive impact on our community.”

In December 2022 Providence announced its intention to close the Family Birthing Center due to a shortage of anesthesiologists. The Asset Purchase Agreement governing the sale of the hospital requires Healthy Petaluma’s approval to terminate services, which Providence sought. After reviewing Providence’s request and listening to public feedback, the Board denied the request and asked that further work be performed exploring options for reopening the unit.

In May 2023, Providence temporarily suspended services at the Petaluma Valley Hospital Family Birthing Center due to a lack of anesthesiologists and obstetricians.

The Healthy Petaluma Board’s Ad Hoc Committee partnered with Providence to work together and forge a path toward reopening the unit. After working through an exhaustive project plan over the past 12 months both parties were able to identify an operating model that would allow the Family Birthing Center to reopen. However, a thorough evaluation of the proposed operating model led both parties to conclude that while the Family Birthing Center could be reopened, the unit would not offer the same physician staffing coverage or provide comparable continuity of care to its patients as was available prior to the suspension. 

Further, Providence’s ability to reasonably sustain the tenuous new approach would likely prompt the Family Birthing Center’s closure within 2 ½ years, negatively impacting the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain physicians, certified registered nurse anesthetists and hospital staff, causing further disruption to the community. Without stability, sustainability and continuity of care, both parties arrived at the difficult determination that the most impactful path to improving the health and well-being of the community would be through this proposed investment in women’s health and behavioral health services.

“The closure of the hospital’s Family Birthing Center was a disappointment,” said Ramona Faith, CEO of Healthy Petaluma. “Despite our efforts to reopen the unit, it became apparent that reopening the unit after being temporarily closed would not best serve the community based on the options that were available to us and the significant challenges that existed.”

The $9.9M from Providence will be held in a Healthy Petaluma District fund specifically dedicated to women’s health and behavioral health services. 

“Our recent Community Health Needs Assessment and input from local providers identified access to women’s health services as a critical need,” added Faith. “Additionally, the lack of sufficient behavioral health services remains a priority area to address. Healthy Petaluma will be working with the community to identify how best to utilize these additional funds to improve women’s health services and behavioral health services across southern Sonoma County, which will have a significant impact on community health and wellbeing.”

Providence will continue to dedicate resources to improving the health and quality of life in the community through its Community Benefit Program. Additionally, Providence will be partnering with the Petaluma Health Center and other community providers to make sure local obstetrical patients have access to antepartum and postpartum outpatient services.

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The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

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