Sansum Clinic

By Steven Libowitz   |   December 7, 2023

The Montecito Journal’s 2024 Giving List book for Santa Barbara was just published last month in time for Giving Tuesday, but already the two-page spread about Sansum Clinic Foundation is out of date. 

Not the part that takes note of the fact that Sansum’s breadth of services are so pervasive in the area that it’s likely that the person standing on either side of you at any given moment is a patient at the clinic. It’s still true that one out of two people in southern Santa Barbara County comes to Sansum Clinic, which is capable of taking care of patients throughout their lifetime, from pediatrics to geriatrics.

The Sansum-Sutter collaboration will let them expand facilities, technology, and attract new talent to the organization

No, what’s changed is the part that says Sansum Clinic remains the largest independent nonprofit outpatient healthcare organization between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay. Independent is what’s no longer true, as on October 2, Sansum Clinic became part of Sutter Health, marking one of the most significant milestones in Sansum’s 103-year history. 

The move came after a 15-year courtship between the two nonprofits, each of which has a century-long commitment to improving the health of the communities they serve. The new relationship is about economies of scale and the capabilities that size can bring. While Sansum currently cares for more than 160,000 patients annually across 23 different locations on the Central Coast and spanning more than 50 specialties and service lines, Sutter Health’s integrated, not-for-profit system of associated clinicians, employees, and volunteers support more than three million patients in communities across two dozen counties. 

Unified by their common missions and values, the two organizations are embarking on a shared journey to shape the future of healthcare on the Central Coast to secure Sansum’s financial footing, build on the clinic’s legacy, and forge a new path forward.

“This partnership is a great opportunity for growth and long-term stability,” said Kurt N. Ransohoff, MD, and Sansum Clinic’s longtime CEO and Chief Medical Officer. “With this transition, we will be able to do things for our patients, our healthcare team, and our community that we would not be able to accomplish on our own…. In the face of industry challenges, the joining of our organizations creates long-term sustainability and the scale necessary for capital investments in our patients and communities.”

A key focus of the Sutter-Sansum partnership is continuing to increase the number of Clinic physicians and advanced practice providers, as well as the technology and infrastructure needed to support these clinicians. The goal is to place Sansum in an even better position to recruit and retain extraordinary physician talent, which has been an increasing challenge over the years in part because of the high cost of living on the South Coast. The result has often been long waits for appointments, and residents needing to drive to other areas for more immediate care.  

CEO and Chief Medical Officer Kurt N. Ransohoff with Medical Director Marjorie Newman

“Healthcare organizations across the country are experiencing a shortage of primary care doctors, rising costs for modern technology and pharmaceuticals, and an increasing gap between the cost of care to patients insured by governmental programs and reimbursement for those services,” explained Vicki Hazard, chair of the Sutter-Sansum Clinic Community Advisory Board. “Our partnership with Sutter will create some relief from these financial pressures, so we can maintain the same high-quality delivery of healthcare our patients have come to expect from us.” 

David Phreaner, MD, a Sansum family medicine physician for 27 years, agreed: “I am looking forward to this partnership with Sutter Health. With their support, I think we will be more successful in recruiting more bright, young providers to come to Santa Barbara, which we greatly need.”

The first Sutter financial investment in our community, which was announced in September, will fund improvements to Sansum’s ambulatory surgery center technology and services, including the addition of three more operating rooms, increasing both availability and access. Subsequent areas of capital investment include facilities and equipment improvements, more advanced diagnostic imaging services including a new breast imaging center, and expansion of other crucial services for our region. There are many other expected benefits of the partnership, however they will likely come over time.  

But what won’t change, Sansum officials said, is the kind of quality care that most recently earned a 2023 5-Star “Elite Status” award from America’s Physician Groups and previous awards from California’s Office of the Patient Advocate, confirming Sansum Clinic’s care meets the highest standards. With Sutter Health as its partner, Sansum Clinic plans to carry on its legacy while forging a new path forward. 

What also stays the same is that Sansum will retain its nonprofit status, and every dollar raised in this community will stay in this community. Which means the clinic will still be reliant on the generosity of donors to fund certain state-of-the art technology and treatments, and many critical projects and programs, like the Lovelace Fund for Medical Excellence and Physician Housing Program, the McNamara Fund for Professional Development & Education, the Women’s Health Initiative, Visiting Professor of Surgery Education Program, and Camp Wheez – a free summer program for children with asthma.

A great tradition of giving from Santa Barbara’s donors has recognized these achievements and sought to build on them.  

To join them, visit


Sansum Clinic

Donate now!
(805) 681-7726
Director of Philanthropy: Dru A. Hartley


Sansum Clinic’s mission is to provide an excellent healthcare experience, recognizing our first priority is the patients we serve.

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I joined Sansum Clinic in 2011. While many jobs offered a nominal relocation package, Sansum Clinic’s Physician Housing Program stood out as an attractive and enticing option for a young family. This program showcased Sansum’s commitment to supporting physicians in their transition to becoming members of the Santa Barbara community and played a major role in our family’s decision to relocate to Santa Barbara and join Sansum Clinic.
Michael Shenoda, MD, FACC, FSCAI (Cardiology, Pueblo)

Michael Shenoda, MD, FACC, FSCAI (Cardiology, Pueblo

Key Supporters 2022

Anonymous (3)
Gloria M. Baldrick*
Susie and Riley Bechtel
Leslie and Philip Bernstein
James S. Bower Foundation
Roger Bower
Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara
Donovan and Kathryn Chalfant
Richard and Mary Compton
Jan Dunbar and Alex Pananides
Roberta and Stan Fishman
Nicholas Michael Fusco*
Sandra J. Helps*
William H. Kearns Foundation
Julie and Jamie Kellner
Manitou Fund
Martin and Maureen McDermut
John Mithun and Mercedes
Millington/John C. Mithun
Julie Nadel
Natalie Orfalea Foundation
and Lou Buglioli
Henry Peterson Foundation
Rusack Family Foundation
Mike and Shannon Sanders
Mary Lynn and Warren Staley
Connie Frank and
Evan Thompson
Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation
The Wolf Family Foundation
Zegar Family Foundation