Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital’s New CEO

Dan Peterson is CEO of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital in Sonoma County. From 2017 until early this year, he was CEO of Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

Describe a single specific challenge your organization faced last year and why it posed such a challenge. What measures have you taken to overcome the challenge?

Last fall, Sutter Lakeside Hospital, where I was CEO at the time, was faced with the prospect of losing power due to the public safety power shutoffs.

In a health care setting, with patients’ life-sustaining care at stake, the potential loss of power takes on a whole new level of seriousness. To prepare, we practiced power outage drills and educated staff on how to ready their homes and families. As a result of our advance work, despite a full week of power loss to the hospital, we were able to provide uninterrupted care to our patients.

As I transition to CEO of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, I bring with me the knowledge of how to navigate any future public safety power shutoff.

Mental health services have become a focus of health care providers in the North Bay since the series of wildfires. For your patients, what strategies have you employed to address this issue? For your employees, what are the challenges faced by your organization in addressing their post-fire needs?

We know we can’t expect our staff to perform at their best if they’re worried about the safety of their families and homes.

At Sutter Health, patient care starts with employee care—and that means ensuring our staff is mentally strong and resilient. Following the fires and power shutoffs of the last few years, Sutter has invested millions of dollars into a robust employee assistance program, which provides employees 24-7 access to counselors, financial assistance and guidance. We’ve seen firsthand that when employees feel supported, they are able focus their minds on providing the exceptional, high-quality patient care we’re known for.

What specific accomplishment of your organization in the past year or so do you wish to highlight?

A cornerstone of our mission at Sutter is to connect the community with the health care and resources they need to achieve their best health. With that in mind, our biggest accomplishment at Sutter Lakeside Hospital was keeping patients safe, managing evacuations and ensuring employee well-being during the Kincade Fire. Our staff worked tirelessly to ensure the facility remained secure, functional and able to reopen as quickly as possible — in the same way Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital staff did during the Tubbs Fire.

I plan to continue this same level of connection and commitment to the community in my new leadership role at Sutter Santa Rosa.

Tell us one person or situation connected to your organization inspired you in the past year.

At Sutter Lakeside, hospital emergency department physicians recently started a bridge program to help patients with a history of drug abuse transition into appropriate outpatient programs.

One memorable example of the effectiveness of this program was a patient who returned to the emergency department because she could not get into a follow-up program quickly enough. Because she was treated by the same care team, a rapport developed and the patient felt comfortable opening up about her situation.

It turned out she was a victim of sex trafficking. Through the bridge program, staff were able to transition her into the appropriate medical care and involve the necessary parties to ensure she could begin a new life in a safer environment. This example of well-planned and executed integrated care is something I’m eager to bring to my new role as CEO of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital.

What are your organization’s biggest goals for 2020?

We are focused on delivering coordinated, high-quality health care when, where and how people need it. We’re looking at innovative ways to enhance the patient experience, whether that’s finding novel ways to decrease patients’ length of stay, offering cutting-edge medical procedures or refining our safety measures. These efforts together will help ensure we’re continuing to provide the Santa Rosa community with health care that is integrated, accessible, inclusive and affordable.

Do you have growth plans for your organization this year?

The expansion of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital is underway, adding hundreds of construction jobs to the local economy. When it is complete in 2022, it will add 40 more hospital beds, more treatment areas in the emergency department, and additional surgical suites.

Sutter Santa Rosa also recently reopened its remodeled outpatient infusion therapy center on Airway Drive, offering patients a calming setting to receive their prescribed chemotherapy or other intravenous medications.