Jon Friedenberg Featured at Impact Marin Conference

GREENBRAE, CA — Jon Friedenberg, Chief Fund and Business Development Officer at Marin General Hospital, was a featured speaker at the Impact Marin Conference, an economic forum presented by the North Bay Business Journal on April 3rd

Following other speakers who gave a mixed economic prognosis for Marin County, Mr. Friedenberg told the assembled business and government leaders that since the 2010 return of the hospital to local control, Marin General Hospital has added more physicians, more patients, more employees, and currently operates in the black. The hospital makes a direct economic contribution of over $1 billion to Marin, and nearly $2 billion total if other services are taken into account, he said, and it spent nearly $33 million in community benefit funds\. He also pointed to a long list of awards and recognition Marin General Hospital has garnered since 2010 for cancer, stroke and cardiac care, and mentioned its recently renewed contract with Marin County as their only designated Trauma Center.

“If you get trauma care in Marin, you are getting it at Marin General Hospital,” he said.  “If you’re getting neurosurgery, you’re getting it at Marin General.  If you’re having heart surgery, or if you’re having a baby, you are at Marin General Hospital by definition, because it is the only place that provides all these services in Marin.”

Mr. Friedenberg showed the audience the latest design options for a new, seismically sound hospital that would be partially funded with General Obligation (GO) bonds to be voted on in the November general election.  However, he emphasized that seismic compliance is not the only reason—or perhaps even the best reason—to build a new hospital.

“Hospitals are built with a 50-year shelf life,” he said.  “Even if there were no state mandate, we would need a new hospital. That’s because the practice of medicine has changed enormously since Marin General Hospital was built.” 

From the size of operating rooms needed to accommodate multi-disciplinary teams and technology for today’s complex surgeries to the size of patient rooms necessary to ensure privacy and bring better technology and therapy to the patient, the new hospital will look vastly different, according to Mr. Friedenberg. 

Asked about the environmental impact of the project, he said, “The EIR is almost complete. We have held all but one of the public meetings, and many groups have had input.  No major objections have been raised.” He said the new hospital will be “LEED Silver at a minimum, and we’re hoping to exceed even that.”

One topic of concern to the audience was how the hospital is preparing for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The only revenue opportunity for Marin General Hospital in the past has been a fee for service,” Mr. Friedenberg said. “Under the ACA, the new ‘population health management’ reimbursement approach provides incentives to keep people out of the hospital.  So, with the help of a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, we’ve launched Project RED to reduce readmissions to the hospital.  We’ve also developed a robust physician alignment program since 2010 to achieve better-coordinated care.”

Mr. Friedenberg also said that Marin General Hospital has joined a local Accountable Care Organization (ACO), and has upgraded its IT systems. “And that’s all taken place before the regulations have even been published,” he said.  “We are doing all we can to prepare.”  He also pointed to the steps Marin General Hospital has taken to provide the community with better preventative care, opening the Braden Diabetes Center to help people better manage their diabetes, and said the hospital is moving aggressively to achieve physician alignment to improve access to care in the community.

Mr. Friedenberg closed his presentation by saying, “Our own research shows overwhelming community support for the new hospital.  It’s not a slam dunk, but I’m extremely optimistic.”

Impact Marin is an annual conference on the topic of the Marin County business climate. Other featured speakers this year included Bank of Marin CEO Russ Colombo, Sonoma State University Economics Professor Rob Eyler, SMART Train General Manager Farhad Mansourian, and San Rafael City Manager Nancy Mackle.