2022 August Board Chair Report

Aug 9, 2022 | SVHCD Board Chair Report

Covid Resurgence

There has been a significant Covid resurgence. While it hasn’t been as severe in terms of how sick people get, we see its numbers rising among patients and staff. As SVH’s CEO John Hennelly noted, “Someone decided Covid was over but no one told Covid.”

All hospital staff are tested regularly when symptomatic and the percent that test positive for COVID in the recent past has been between 10 and 30%. In July that number rose dramatically, and we continue to follow protocols in sending staff who test positive home for 10 days to ensure they are not infectious.  Hospitalizations are up, though not at the rates seen in January this year. Vigilant staff protocols continue. SVH also continues to require masking by everyone in the hospital in addition to the expectation that all staff, patients and visitors have either been vaccinated or have had a recent negative PCR (lab) test. 

We urge everyone in the community to continue to take precautions (e.g., ‘mask-up’) when in group settings, particularly when indoors. We don’t want to continue to see high positivity rates where we put those who are vulnerable at risk and disrupt our ability to operate our hospital and carry-on normal lives.

Transformation for Community Hospitals Recommended, SVH Answers the Call

As the Board plans its October retreat, Mark Finucane, Managing Director at the Alvarez & Marsal firm, Los Angeles presented at the recent board meeting, outlining the many special challenges in the world of small community hospitals. Given the competition from healthcare giants, he reported that community hospitals have the toughest road ahead in today’s healthcare environment. He noted that as communities fight to keep their hospitals, transformation to meet those challenges is vital. 

In many ways, his presentation was gratifying to the Board as many of the challenges he outlined are already familiar to us and have been something we have been working on. We understand we are in a time of transformation. We continue to develop a strong partnership with UCSF and have launched fundamental changes in how we handle our financials and deliver services. Dave Pier, SVH Foundation Executive Director, who was present at the meeting, noted that the affiliation with UCSF has been phenomenal. CEO John Hennelly spoke to some of the innovative partnerships SVH is initiating to bring top doctors and surgeons to Sonoma Valley. It is encouraging to know that our team is proactively addressing our challenges and working to ensure that the Sonoma Valley will always have its hospital. 

Opening of the Outpatient Diagnostic Center 

The board celebrated the opening of the brand-new Outpatient Diagnostic Center (ODC) this month. I have toured the facility and it is beautiful, spacious, and comfortable. Located right next to the Emergency Department, it boasts absolutely up-to-date equipment, including a new state-of-the-art 128-slice CT scanner. We expect to begin scanning patients the third week of August following final approval by the State of California. While the project has experienced delays due to COVID and challenges of construction in an older building, it’s satisfying to have this phase done and be able to provide residents with these advanced scanning services close to home. Next up, the new 3-T MRI!

Brief Updates

• Excellent First Year Performance from our New CEO, John Hennelly
Every year the Sonoma Valley Hospital CEO undergoes a job performance review. The Healthcare District Board just finished John Hennelly’s review for his first year at Sonoma Valley Hospital. The Board recognized John’s significant accomplishments during a very challenging time that included the pandemic as well as the final phases of the ODC construction. John was able to maintain quality of care and customer service during this period while working to become a member of our community and sustaining confidence in the hospital. John continues to invest in the affiliation with UCSF and is working towards building a vision for our community hospital going forward. For these reasons, the board approved a recommendation to UCSF to adjust John’s salary at the rate of the organization’s staff raises for the year and provide him with an incentive bonus. Thank you, John! 

 Power Plant on Campus, Deal Adjusted to Reflect Current Issues
In 2020, SVH entered into an agreement with Unison Energy to provide a power plant on campus so that the hospital would not be wholly reliant on PG&E, providing added energy security for the hospital along with significant anticipated costs savings. Adjustments were made to this deal at the August Board meeting which were necessary due to changes in the interconnectivity requirements by PG&E, the additional costs of upgrading the existing boiler room, and increased supply chain costs due to Covid. The Board voted to extend the terms for Unison from 20 years to 25 years which happily provided additional savings to the hospital at no additional cost. 

• The Time is Now to Register as a Candidate
August 17 is the last day to register as a candidate for the Sonoma Valley Health District Trustee positions. There will be two vacant board positions as neither Michael Mainardi nor I will be seeking re-election. If you have a background in healthcare and/or want to serve your community, we can think of no better way of doing so than by becoming a candidate for the Healthcare District Board. I personally have enjoyed my eight years serving the community and hospital and look forward to welcoming new board members in December. The election occurs November 8, 2022. For more information, visit the Sonoma County Clerk’s website HERE.

Next Board Meeting September 1
The SVH board will continue to meet remotely until the end of this year. Our next board meeting is via Zoom, Thursday, September 1, 6 pm. All are welcome. To receive meeting information and the live-stream link, visit www.sonomavalleyhospital.org. 



Joshua Rymer
Chair of the SVHCD Board of Directors