News Headlines Article

Santa Rosa firestorm tests local health care services
The Press Democrat

In his 40 years as a hospital leader, Mike Purvis has never witnessed the forced evacuation of a major hospital, let alone two.

But that’s exactly what happened when the worst firestorm in Santa Rosa history tore through the northern end of the city, forcing not only the closure of both Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente hospitals, but also shuttering local clinics, skilled nursing facilities and medical offices.

“This is so exceptionally unusual — this is a once-in-a-hundred-years event,” said Purvis, CEO of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital.

Purvis’ home was among the hundreds of homes destroyed in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood, many of them belonging to hospital executives, physicians, nurses and other medical staff. Todd Salnas, who oversees Memorial Hospital as president of St. Joseph Health Sonoma County, and Judy Coffey, area manager for Kaiser’s operations in Sonoma and Marin counties, also lost their homes in the fires. Up to 100 members of Kaiser’s staff lost homes in the fires, a spokesman said.