Five Years Later, A New SVH

Feb 6, 2015 | From the SVH CEO | 0 comments

Kelly Mather, President and Chief Executive Officer

Kelly Mather, President and Chief Executive Officer

As 2015 began, we paused to take a look at the past five years. Since coming to this wonderful hospital in 2010, I have been fortunate to see so much great progress. It is a gratifying and amazing experience to describe how our staff, physicians, board, stakeholders and our community came together to achieve what many thought were impossible goals just a few years ago. I’d like to use this blog to share some of the highlights.

In just five years, we’ve managed to create a new Sonoma Valley Hospital. It is a Hospital well prepared to serve the community for another generation, and one that I believe illustrates the role a community hospital must play in the future in order to remain relevant and viable. There were many questions over the last decade or so about whether or not we can sustain a hospital in our small community, and I’m proud to say that while it is very challenging, we’ve proven it can be done.  

Facility Improvement. Clearly, the big story that I encountered upon arrival five years ago was the need to complete extensive modernization and upgrade our physical plant. We addressed years of deferred maintenance and accomplished the needed facility upgrades, including all seismic work. We also refurbished patient rooms and departments, including our Skilled Nursing Facility, opened a state-of-the-art Physical Therapy center, refurbished the campus, replaced diagnostic equipment and, of course, opened our beautiful Emergency Department and Surgery Center.

Physician Partnership. We have strengthened our partnership with our physicians and also brought in a number of specialists, so we can now meet most of our community’s medical needs right here in Sonoma. We now have physicians specializing in Bariatric and General Surgery, Orthopedics, ENT, Urology and Pain Management. This means we have a full complement of physicians with our excellent Internists, Pediatricians, Family Practitioners, Ophthalmologists, our Obstetrician and Cardiologist.

Staff Satisfaction. We conducted our first staff satisfaction survey (a best practice hospital comparison survey) in 2011. When we compare our staff’s engagement to other hospitals in the nation, we are in the top 25 percent. Turnover averages less than 10% at our hospital, while it is typically over 15% at similar facilities. In 2010, we were very far behind the market in staff salaries and benefits. Over the past five years, we have made a significant investment in our staff by improving benefits and increasing salaries to market levels. We instituted across-the-board raises annually for the past several years, while doubling the benefits budget since 2010 to nearly $9 million. One of the accomplishments that I am most proud to share is that SVH has a strong service-oriented culture with healthy staff who make our hospital a place of healing.

Outpatient Services. SVH, like all hospitals, has seen inpatient volumes decrease as services shift to outpatient as a result of trends within the industry, although recently we’ve been encouraged to see inpatient numbers stabilize. In response, we have expanded outpatient services and now see growing volumes in Rehab/PT, Radiology, Laboratory, Wound Care, Nutrition Counseling, and Occupational Health. Our Home Health Care service, Healing At Home, now operates in three counties. Revenues in 2011 were $49 million and in 2014 they were close to $54 million. Increasing revenues as the payers decrease their reimbursement is a major accomplishment.

Technology. We’ve invested in the necessary technology to modernize the Hospital, upgrading systems throughout departments, implementing a necessary $5 million Electronic Health Record, and strengthening our telemedicine program.

Service Quality. SVH has seen an increase in most measures of service quality over the past few years. Today, we consistently rank in the top 50 percent of hospitals nationally for patient satisfaction, and frequently place in the top quartile. Recently, we were recognized as one of 33 “High-Performing Hospitals” in California for the quality of our maternity care services by The California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now give SVH a bonus payment due to our excellent Value Based Purchasing Score.

Emergency Services. Our new Emergency Department has seen volume grow by 10 percent in the past year, and currently averages more than 10,000 patient visits annually, representing 80 percent of emergency visits in the Sonoma Valley.

Safety. SVH has been named one of the 15 safest hospitals in the country by Consumer Reports and recently we received another “A” rating for patient safety from The Leapfrog Group, a national, nonprofit organization which rates how well hospitals protect patients from errors, injuries and infections.

Community Perception. All this progress has not gone unnoticed.We are seeing positive changes in community perception among all groups – physicians, staff, patients and their families, and community partners. This is leading to growing volumes at many levels.

Community Health. We have broadened efforts to improve community health and disease prevention. We’ve implemented a number of community programs serving seniors, often at no or little cost, such as our Aches & Pains Clinics and balance classes. We reach women in our community through our Health Resource Center and GirlTalk health education programs. We have begun offering Employee Wellness programs to employers. Also, the Hospital Foundation continues to provide no-cost mammograms through Project Pink, and will soon open the area’s first Cancer Support Program.

Philanthropic Support. We continue to enjoy strong financial support from our community, which was instrumental in making so much of this progress happen. By the time we opened the doors to our new wing, we had secured pledges for the entire $11 million needed to complete the work. Not long after the capital campaign was completed, the Foundation’s annual appeal was met with generous community response that set a new record.

As you can see, the past five years have been exciting ones for SVH, and highly productive. Currently, we are updating our rolling strategic plan, which identifies our priorities for the future. I will share that with you in an upcoming blog.

In good health,


Kelly Mather
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sonoma Valley Hospital