Dr. Scott Neely
Dr. Scott Neely

It’s been nearly 18 months since Dr. Scott Neeley took the helm as CEO and president of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley. On Friday, Sept. 22, Neeley will join the Nevada County Community Forum for an “Urgent Conversation: How will Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital survive the rural healthcare crisis?”

According to a 2022 American Hospital Association study, 136 rural hospitals closed between 2010-2021 across the United States. Nineteen of the closures came in 2020, the most in any single year in the past decade. 

In June, the Los Angeles Times reported nearly 30% of all rural hospitals in the country — more than 600 — are at risk of closing, according to the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. In the same report, the newspaper stated California has seen nine rural hospitals close since 2005 and that 17 are currently at risk of closing.

“Experts in healthcare economics say rural counties generally have fewer patients than suburban and urban communities — and a high share of those patients are low-income and enrolled in Medi-Cal,” the LA Times reported. “That means there are fewer patients with private insurance whose payments can offset Medi-Cal’s low reimbursement rates. Small hospitals also have less muscle than bigger ones to negotiate rates from private insurance companies.”

Neeley, who was named to the hospital’s leadership in March 2022, had served as vice president and chief medical officer for St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton since 2013. 

“A graduate of Harvard University, University of London, Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Neeley completed his residency and fellowship training at the University of Chicago Hospitals and is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases, critical care medicine and hospice and palliative care medicine,” according to DignityHealth.org.

Neeley has also taught at the University of Chicago, Rush Medical School, Cook County Hospital, and Touro University College of Medicine. He has more than 30 years of experience as a practicing physician, educator, and healthcare executive.

“As a physician, providing the highest quality care while keeping our patients and employees safe, is a top priority,” Neeley said upon his hiring in Grass Valley. “I am committed to continuing to advance the amazing legacy of this community hospital.” 

The Forum discussion will focus on rural healthcare in general, delving into Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s current standing and its look toward the future. The discussion will touch upon the role of the community in the current hospital structure, its staffing needs and also the state of urgent care, following the recent closure of YubaDocs, a long-standing and popular local urgent care provider.

The talk will be the third in an ongoing series of discussions hosted by the Nevada County Community Forum, launched with July’s guest Nevada Irrigation District General Manager Jennifer Hanson and followed by an August forum with Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon on evacuating the community in the event of wildfire.

This month’s discussion, hosted by the Nevada County Community Forum and the Sierra College Foundation is set to start 10:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 22 in the auditorium at Sierra College’s campus in Grass Valley.

WHAT: “An Urgent Conversation: How will our hospital survive the rural healthcare crisis?” 

WHO: Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital President & CEO Dr. Scott Neeley talks with former Sacramento Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell

WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 22

WHERE: Sierra College, Nevada County campus, N-12-Auditorium

https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2022/09/rural-hospital-closures-threaten-access-report.pdf – 2022 American Hospital Association report

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-06-06/madera-county-rural-hospital-closure-some-residents-brace-for-death#:~:text=In%20California%2C%20nine%20rural%20hospitals,bowing%20under%20serious%20financial%20problems.— L.A. Times report

https://www.dignityhealth.org/sacramento/about-us/press-center/sierra-nevada-hospital-president — Dignity Health