Save the Mack E. Mickelson Arthritis and Rehabilitation Center therapeutic pool

Save the Mack E. Mickelson Arthritis and Rehabilitation Center therapeutic pool

5,021 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!
Petition to
Janet Wagner, CEO of Sutter Health Mills-Peninsula Medical Center and

Why this petition matters

Started by Lindsay Raike

“Gentle sweet water—quieting pain today, wakening courage for tomorrow -honoring the memory of Ellen Moira Burns.” These powerful and soothing words grace the wall of the Mack E. Mickelson Arthritis and Rehabilitation Center pool.

As many people are aware, public hours at the Mickelson pool were dramatically reduced in January of 2020 with the intention of shifting the pool’s use from support for chronic pain and rehabilitation to a more profitable model of acute care for physical therapy. Independent pool users were very disappointed at the time, and several petitions circulated expressing discontent.

In mid-March of 2020, the pool was closed as a result of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place county directive. While disappointed, patrons understood and patiently waited for its reopening when the pandemic restrictions would be lifted and when it would be safe again to enjoy the facility. 

In March of 2021, without any outreach to participants and their families, Sutter Health announced that it will be permanently closing this unique and much-needed facility for independent use by patrons. This is now the third local closure by Sutter of a program benefiting seniors and those with disabilities. (1) In 2019, Sutter Health suddenly closed the Fitness Center on Trousdale Drive that served patients recovering from surgeries. (2) (It was saved by the Peninsula Health Care District and Eskaton). The second program, Senior Focus at 1720 El Camino Real in Burlingame, also was permanently closed by Sutter Health to the dismay of those who depended on the senior care program. (3) Senior Focus offered a safe place for seniors with memory loss or other afflictions brought by advanced age to spend the day while receiving some medical care and socializing with others. Sutter’s decisions are having a detrimental effect on San Mateo county residents’ ability to recover, thrive and enjoy an overall quality of life.

The Mickelson pool at the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center (a Sutter Health affiliate) is a unique facility that is designed specifically for standing therapeutic exercise. It is wheelchair accessible and heated to about 93 degrees Fahrenheit. For decades, the pool has been open to community residents of all ages. Its healing, warm water has provided an invaluable resource for chronic pain management and rehabilitation for seniors, disabled individuals, patients recovering from surgeries, children with special needs, and pregnant women. Because this San Mateo facility is the only pool in the county specifically designed for therapeutic use, patrons drive from all over—Half Moon Bay, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose—to take advantage of this precious resource. It’s not just a place for physical rehabilitation; it is also a social community that offers mental health benefits to disabled and elderly individuals, many of whom rarely leave home. The Mickelson pool patrons and staff are a close-knit community.

The Mickelson pool was a gift from a local family for the benefit of the community, not just for the pockets of Sutter Health. The $4 million Mickelson Arthritis and Rehabilitation Center was financed entirely by community donations—including $1.5 million from the late philanthropist Mack E. Mickelson. (4)

Pool patrons understand that they may need to be flexible with pool hours and fees. To this end, we, the undersigned, insist that Sutter Health Mills-Peninsula Medical Center CEO Janet Wagner, Sutter Health Mills-Peninsula Medical Center Administrative Director Jillian Thomas, Sutter Health Director of Government Affairs Melissa White, President and CEO of Sutter Health Warner Thomas, and the Sutter Health Board reopen the Mickelson pool for public use and honor their own mission statement: 

“We enhance the well-being of people in the communities we serve through a not-for-profit commitment to compassion and excellence in healthcare services.”

Please support our community by signing this petition!


(1) Stahl, Jane and Steve. "Letter to the Editor: Sutter’s senior program closure will have big impact.” San Mateo Daily Journal, 3 Mar. 2021, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

(2) Thompson, Bruce, "Letter to the Editor: Sutter deserves scrutiny over senior program closure." San Mateo Daily Journal, 3 Mar. 2021, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

(3) Walsh, Austin. “Senior care program’s closure vexes Burlingame community: Frustration over Sutter Health’s decision to terminate Senior Focus in Burlingame.” San Mateo Daily Journal, 1 Mar. 2021, updated: 2 Mar.  2021, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

(4) "Peninsula Datelines." San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Jan. 1996, updated: 8 Feb. 2012 Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

5,021 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!