What Makes This Rural Hospital California’s Best?
May 23, 2022
Gary Zavoral
Sutter Amador Hospital employees showing they're No. 1
A staff that is like family is one of the reasons why Sutter Amador Hospital is California’s only representative on the list of top rural hospitals in the nation. Showing they are No. 1 are, from left, rehab tech Reiner Kiehl, surgical nurse assistant Aria Reyes, CAO Michael Cureton and hospitalist Dr. Erik Wiele. 


When it comes to healthcare in the California Gold Country county of Amador, you can say they hit the mother lode.

For the second year in a row, Sutter Amador Hospital in Jackson was California’s sole representative among the Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals in the United States, the healthcare industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance by the Chartis Center for Rural Health. In addition, this month Sutter Amador was the only hospital in Northern California to be honored by Modern Healthcare as a Best Place to Work.

So what makes Sutter Amador Hospital the best rural hospital in the state? We asked CAO Michael Cureton to give some insights. Here are his six reasons:

  1. Part of a Larger Network, But Retains Amador Character

Sutter Amador Hospital’s rich history of providing care for residents of Amador and neighboring counties dates back to 1876. Today, it has 52 licensed beds and is the only hospital in Amador County, serving a population of more than 40,000. It is one of 24 hospitals in the Sutter Health network in Northern California.

“Sutter Amador Hospital is fortunate to be a part of an integrated health system that allows us to draw from resources outside the county,” said Cureton, ”but remains independent and flexible enough to have a culture that is unique to the county.”

  1. The Staff Treat All Patients Like Family

The nurses, doctors and other employees take pride in the hospital because many of them live in Amador or neighboring counties.

“The employees are part of a family here that is dedicated to the community,” he said. “This is where they bring their family and loved ones. With this in mind, we work to treat each patient as if they were our own kin.”

  1. Their Leaders Truly Lead

Leaders at Sutter Amador Hospital, Cureton says, are dedicated to both the employee experience and the patient experience.

“Throughout the pandemic, they have been true servant-leaders helping our frontline staff amidst very difficult circumstances,” he said. “They encourage their teams to ensure that we are providing quality care and problem-solve at the bedside.”

  1. Community Members Help Hospital in its Mission
Infusion patient laughs with nurse

A needed service in Amador County was an infusion center, and generous local donors stepped up, giving $1.8 million for its construction on the campus of Sutter Amador Hospital. Here, cancer patient Tami Owen receives infusion therapy at the Irene Marie Infusion Center.

Being a not-for-profit hospital means that the generosity of community members assists with delivering top-notch care, playing an important role in Sutter Amador’s success.

“Generous philanthropy has allowed us to purchase important and updated medical equipment which helps us ensure both great clinical outcomes and overall patient experience,” Cureton said. “We also have wonderful community advisory groups, patient family advisors, and volunteers who serve as either advisors or provide direct service to our patients.

  1. A Challenge to Be Even Better

Cureton says the hospital benefits from the leadership at the Sutter Health system level, which assists them in their mission to provide the best possible healthcare to the community.

“The system continues to challenge us with hitting national quality benchmarks,” he says, “pushing us for continuous improvement which helps us with patient outcomes.”

  1. Excellent Advanced Care Is Close By

Sutter Amador provides comprehensive services, including 24-hour emergency care, critical and intensive care, diagnostic imaging, a family birth center, surgery, orthopedics, an infusion center and laboratory services, and it continues to add valuable services to the community. However, there are some advanced services that are only available at larger medical centers, and Sutter Amador’s alignment with specialty services at Sutter facilities in Sacramento, Modesto and throughout Northern California give patients access to quality care they need.

“While we don’t have some specialty services specifically here locally, being a part of an integrated healthcare system means that we are connected to some of the best care out there. So what we do not provide here, we know that our large medical centers provide outstanding care,” Cureton says, “and we rely on that partnership to care for our community members.”

For more on Sutter Health and Sutter Amador Hospital, go to www.sutterhealth.org.

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