West Marin Health Coalition

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Current Status of the Project

I have had numerous inquiries lately about the status of the project to possibly build a new health center for West Marin, so I thought I would write a short update. 

For the last three years a group of us have been working on ideas to help ensure sustainable health care in West Marin.  This was an outgrowth of the crisis which arose when Dr. Molly Bourne decided to close her practice here a few years ago.  What struck us at that time was how powerless we are as a community to help ensure that we can continue to have the excellent level of care we have all grown accustomed to; how fragile and potentially unsustainable much of that care is; and how the limitations and expense of the physical space occupied by most of our providers limits the flexibility and choices for change and growth. 

We spent a great deal of time touring facilities and talking to professionals around northern California to see what other organizations and communities had done to try to address this problem.  Our accumulated learning grew into an idea for a community owned building which would foster collaboration and provide secure, affordable, green, handicapped accessible flexible space for all of our providers and open up possibilities for the future of healthcare in our community.

We worked to incorporate what we perceived as the key stakeholders into our planning:  Marin County, Kaiser, Marin Healthcare District (West Marin Medical Center), and Coastal Health Alliance.  We knew we had to start with a needs assessment to better inform whether this was actually an idea with legs.  Next we would need to take that data and complete a feasibility study to understand if it was in fact possible.  Concurrent with these steps we needed to start having community discussions. 

We developed a document which outlined our vision, including timelines and costs.  The size and costs were based on measurements of the existing facilities occupied by the prospective tenants combined with discussions with them about additional needs not now being met.  We consolidated spaces which could be used in common wherever possible, such as restrooms, meeting rooms and so on.

Though I still believe that this is a much needed facility, it has become clear that it is not practical to proceed with this project any further at this time.  The key stakeholders have priorities which are more immediate and preclude their ability to devote the kind of resources needed to such a project at this time.  Due to the state of the economy it is difficult to garner the kinds of donations which have been more readily accessible in the past, which we need to even get to the final decision making phase.  So for now the project is on indefinite hold.

I encourage each of you to support our medical community in any way you can.  We are so fortunate to have the excellent resources at our disposal.

Suzanne Speh

Inverness Park