Bay Area hospital that split with Sutter rebrands as MarinHealth

A Bay Area hospital that famously split from California hospital giant Sutter Health and has since proudly touted its independence has changed its name to MarinHealth.

In the nine years since MarinHealth Medical Center—formerly Marin General Hospital—split from Sutter, it has built its own medical group with about 150 physicians and 30 practice locations. The new umbrella name includes the Greenbrae, Calif. hospital, its physician group, outpatient locations and foundation.

“This change in our name is symbolic of where we’ve come in terms of stability and success over the past nine years,” MarinHealth CEO Lee Domanico said in an interview. “And it’s at kind of an inflection point as the hospital moves into its next decade as an independent facility.”

Modern Healthcare Metrics data show the hospital has outperformed its peers financially for years. Its operating profit margin was nearly 8% in 2017, compared with -17% in California that year across hospitals of all bed sizes. The hospital drew about $33 million in operating profit on nearly $398 million in operating revenue in 2017.

Tuesday’s announcement is just a name change and doesn’t alter the health system’s ownership structure or finances, Domanico said. It did not require regulatory approval, except for ensuring MarinHealth wasn’t already taken, he said. California law does not allow health systems to employ physicians, so the medical group has a professional services agreement with MarinHealth’s not-for-profit foundation.

In addition to the hospital, MarinHealth includes MarinHealth Medical Network, formerly Prima Medical Foundation and Marin Healthcare District Centers, and MarinHealth Foundation, formerly Marin General Hospital Foundation.

In August 2016, MarinHealth Medical Center broke ground on a 260,000-square-foot replacement building set to open in summer 2020. A $394 million general obligation bond covered most of the capital costs.

The hospital last year announced a 10-year strategic alliance with UCSF Health that includes clinical and information technology integration and a $110 million capital commitment from UCSF to MarinHealth. The deal also allows MarinHealth to use the UCSF Health brand. The change means all of MarinHealth’s physician locations are jointly operated with UCSF. When MarinHealth switches to Epic’s electronic health records platform this week, it will integrate with UCSF’s patient records, Domanico said.

Despite that, Domanico said MarinHealth remains independent, as UCSF does not hold an ownership stake in MarinHealth. UCSF will, however, have a stake in joint investments the systems make together.

“I believe a key part of being able to remain independent is to access, through partnership relationships, what you might also gain through a sale or a merger,” he said. “We’ve decided to take the partnership approach, where we stay in control of our own destiny.”

As part of its split from Sutter in 2010, the hospital sued the Sacramento, Calif.-based system, alleging it had illegally funneled $120 million out of the hospital. About three years later, a judge awarded the hospital $32 million.