Board Chair Report: Emergency Response and Financial Audit Reviewed At November Board Meeting
Along with our entire community, we want to express our gratitude to those, from first responders to local officials and community members, who helped Sonoma Valley residents get through the recent disaster. We also want to extend our gratitude to hospital physicians and staff who demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and who kept the hospital functioning to serve our community throughout the emergency.
The board heard a report at the November 2 meeting that reviewed hospital emergency procedures, and I’m pleased to say that hospital leadership did an excellent job managing through the emergency and looking after patients even as the threat of evacuation continued for nearly a week. Fortunately, evacuation was not necessary.
Planning for a fire is one of the top two disasters that staff trains for – the other is an earthquake – and the training paid off. Incident command was set up almost immediately on news of the fires, and the command team operated around the clock for more than a week, staying in close contact with both city and county emergency staff.
The biggest problem was dealing with air quality within the hospital due to the smoke. The command team had the air tested several times and, while certainly irritating, it was not found to be unsafe. Masks were used with staff and patients as needed, and additional air scrubbers were brought in, including a number generously loaned us by Petaluma Valley Hospital.
Since the fires, senior leadership has carefully reviewed the hospital’s response and noted several areas where there is room for improvement. Overall, however, things went smoothly. The hospital remained fully staffed during the emergency, thanks to the dedication of hospital physicians and staff, including some who came in even after evacuating their homes, along with many staff who volunteered to help. In addition, staff from our home health care program, Healing At Home, visited and stayed in touch with all home-bound patients during the emergency.
The fiscal year 2017 financial audit conducted by an outside auditor was recently concluded and reported at the meeting. I’m pleased to say the audit went well, marking the second year that the auditors had no recommendations to management.
We think credit for this goes to our Chief Financial Officer, Ken Jensen. Since he joined the hospital three years ago, he has been instrumental in helping the hospital financially navigate these uncertain times for health care. His many years of experience with larger hospitals and considerable expertise have been invaluable to hospital administration and the board.
South Lot Update
I’m pleased to report that we are making good progress on the South Lot. A representative from the developer, DeNova Builders, provided an update at the meeting. The purchase and sale agreement were thoroughly reviewed since the last board meeting, and was recently signed by CEO Kelly Mather. De Nova mentioned they are currently scheduling public hearings on their plan to obtain community feedback.
Some good news was shared by Kelly Mather in her CEO report. She noted that our skilled nursing facility was recently awarded the top rating for quality and safety – 5 stars – from Medicare, making it one of the few to receive this rating in our region. She also reported that the hospital provided 22 free mammograms to uninsured and underinsured Sonoma Valley women during October under the Foundation’s Project Pink program, and that a new breast surgeon, Dr. Alexis Alexandridis will start working at the hospital this week, seeing patients in the hospital’s Perkins St. space.
In closing, I’d like to remind all that the information discussed at board meetings can be found in the board packets that are available on the hospital website (at sonomavalleyhospital.org under the Health Care District section), and all board meetings are open and public comment is welcome and encouraged.