Sutter’s Largest Medical Office Building in Sonoma Co. to Reopen After Fires
Fire forced the closure of Sutter North Bay Health Plaza, located at 3883 Airway Drive in Santa Rosa, on October 9, 2017. The facility, which is normally staffed with 43 doctors and 250 employees, has begun the process of reopening and will resume the majority of services by Tuesday, December 5, 2017.
Most remaining departments will reopen in January 2018. Family Medicine is the only service not anticipated to return to Airway.
Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation (SPMF) North Division cares for 125,000 patients in Sonoma County – delivering outpatient services at 13 care centers spread out across Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Healdsburg and Sebastopol. On the morning of October 9, 2017 all 13 care centers were closed while accessibility, safety, fire and smoke damage were assessed and abated.
Two weeks after wildfires raced through the community all but the Sutter North Bay Health Plaza (the Plaza) had reopened. Badly damaged by fire and smoke, the Plaza required extensive cleaning, re-stocking, testing, inspections and certification by the City of Santa Rosa before physicians could resume seeing patients at this site. The dates when each medical service will resume at the Plaza, the efforts to minimize disruption in care during the crisis and the unexpected strength that has been forged by the fire are detailed below. Interviews are available upon request.
More than a Medical Office
The Plaza is home to 12 physician practices that meet a wide range of patient needs including Family Medicine (primary care and pediatrics), Rheumatology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Endocrinology, Dermatology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Radiology and Laboratory services. Additionally, since 2015 the Plaza has been home to SPMF’s only urgent care clinic in the Sonoma County area – offering same-day and drop-in Family Medicine services on weekends.
“The Plaza is where our community comes for care” said Toni Brayer M.D. CEO of SPMF. “We serve every age group and provide everything from preventative care to chronic disease management and rehabilitation. Before the fire we saw an average of 735 patients a day at the Plaza so returning to full capacity is a critical step in helping our patients – who are our neighbors – get back to good health.”
“We do more than diagnose ailments and initiate treatments here, we help guide and support people when they’re sick and when they are well” Brayer said. “That’s a huge responsibility and I am relieved that we can return to this building which is familiar to patients and staff and essential to the community.”
The first departments in the Plaza to reopen included Urgent Care and Advanced Imaging – which saw patients on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. On Friday, December 1, 2017 the Rheumatology and Physical Therapy departments were reopened.
The next milestone will occur on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 when outpatient appointments for Lab Services, Endocrinology, Dermatology, Neurology, and Oncology will once again be available at the Plaza. Patients can call their regular clinic phone numbers for information about scheduling and new patient appointment availability. Online scheduling will be reinstated in mid-December. Finally, Podiatry, Orthopedics and Breast Cancer Services will reopen in January 2018.
Each of the suites in the Plaza has been stocked with new supplies and passed air quality, safety, and equipment checks to ensure the building is safe for patients and staff. All windows and ceiling tiles have been replaced, furniture and carpets have been cleaned or replaced as needed, and all heating ventilation and air conditioning ducts have been cleaned and new filters installed.
Care During the Crisis
The fires were an exceptional crisis because of the prolonged duration before they were controlled. For the first few days SPMF needed to evacuate different clinical care centers as fire came close. Despite this, two SPMF care centers were reopened within 24 hours of closing. Another two reopened 24 hours later and an urgent care clinic – which was moved from the Plaza to 131 Stony Circle, Santa Rosa – provided weekend services starting October 14, 2017 and every Saturday and Sunday since. The same day that Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital reopened – just eight days after it was evacuated – SPMF had ten of its 13 clinics back up and running.
“Nurses and doctors, many of them displaced themselves, quickly moved to different locations so they could continue to serve patients. Teams expanded crucial medical services including Oncology and high-risk Obstetrics at open locations and staff called hundreds of patients to reschedule appointments to the nearest open facility – helping many evacuees get care in the town they’d fled to. We were determined to minimize disruptions in medical treatment and to respond to new patient needs” said Erin Neal, VP of Clinical Operations.
In addition to relocating SPMF doctors and nurses, Sutter Health also activated video visits, allowing patients to speak directly to a provider and receive care through their mobile device. Sutter’s Walk-In Care clinic at 411 North McDowell Blvd in Petaluma also accommodated an influx in patients. The clinic which opened in April of this year saw 42 patients on October 10, 2017, most of whom were seen within 20 minutes of walking into the clinic. “Walk-In Care staff provided 18 patients with medication refills – in one case refilling ten medications for one patient. I couldn’t be more pleased that they were open and here to help” Neal said.
Stronger and More Connected
Over the course of 63 days the entire SPMF team banded together to serve the Santa Rosa community through the worst fire disaster in California’s history. “Through this intense work we built relationships we didn’t have before and I think we’re stronger as an organization” said Dr. Brayer. “I’ve heard this sentiment echoed by our doctors who say: I’ve never worked with Dr. X before, I’ve only seen her at meetings, and now we’re working in the same office and we kind of like it.”
“SPMF is proud to resume health care services after the devastating fire that rocked the Sonoma infrastructure” Neal said. “We are your neighbors, your friends and family and we remain here to serve the health care needs of our community.”