- Sonoma County Department of Health Services leadership
- Hospital leadership from Providence, Kaiser Permanente, and Santa Rosa Behavioral Healthcare
The Sonoma Health Alliance (SHA) is a collaboration between Sonoma County hospitals, Sonoma County Department of Health Services Leadership, and Hospital Council that discusses pertinent health needs of Sonoma County residents, primarily focusing on behavioral health. In late August, SHA stakeholders convened at the Sonoma County Department of Health Services building to discuss updates and needs. Tina Rivera, director of health services, kicked the meeting off by sharing the good news that Sonoma was recently awarded $18.2 million in funding from the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program. Part of the funding will go toward a facility at the old Valley of the Moon site that will serve youth and families struggling with substance use disorder; $11.2 million will be used for bridge housing to prioritize Care Court participants and Sonoma residents who are chronically homeless. Rivera also noted that getting the adequate workforce to staff services remains a top concern with “salaries well below median for all psychiatrists, nurses, and staff.”
In addition, effective Jan. 1, 2024, the county will have a new ambulance provider contract, and is interested in evaluating the potential for Community Paramedicine. One hospital leader expressed concerns about field triage, which is a good idea in concept, but because of workforce shortages and a lack of infrastructure outside of the emergency department this plan might not yet be feasible. By the end of 2024, all of Sonoma County is obligated to offer 24/7 mobile crisis (again, the question surfaced about workforce shortages). Finally, the group discussed a potential return of mask mandates, with Kaiser Permanente already masking at its properties, and increased rates of staff calling out for COVID-19. Importantly, Sonoma County will not be staffing an alternate care site this year.
Takeaway / Next Steps
While all parties would concede that there is significant work ahead for both hospitals and county leadership to get to a better place in treating residents struggling with behavioral health needs, positive gains made by members of the alliance show that collaborations do work.