At its monthly meeting on August 2, the Sonoma Valley Health Care District Board approved the formation of a task force that will make a recommendation to the Board on the financial viability and future of the hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF).
SVH staff has proposed closing the SNF as part of a plan to stabilize the finances of the hospital and restructure for the future. “This would be an impactful and important decision for our community and for the hospital’s future,” said Board Chair Joshua Rymer. “The board wants to ensure we have all of the information needed, including encouraging community input, before a final decision can be made.”
Rymer said the task force is charged with identifying ways to improve the SNF’s financial performance to make it sustainable or recommending closure of the unit within a reasonable amount of time, based on its findings.
“We plan to give Valley residents ample opportunity to share their thoughts on the subject, as well as hear expert input,” Rymer said. “We want to keep communication flowing both ways as we study the situation.”
Board member Jane Hirsch will chair the task force, which will include both healthcare experts and community representatives. Members include Leslie Lovejoy, RN, SVH Director of Case Management; David Streeter, MD, SVH hospitalist and SNF referring physician; Sabrina Kidd, MD, SVH Chief Medical Officer; Melissa Evans, RN, SNF Director; Susan Porth, SVH Finance Committee member; and two community members, Susan Idell and Maggie Haywood.
In addition, key SVH constituents and members of the SVH administrative staff will be invited to provide input to the group. Hirsch said the task force is also looking at the possibility of involving a consultant with expertise in SNF financial and operational management.
According to Hirsch, the task force will address many questions, including:
- Can we validate the profitability estimates and projections contained in the Closure Recommendation?
- What is causing the decline in patient numbers? Are there sustainable ways to increase patient volume that cover costs?
- Are there strong, implementable and sustainable ways to improve occupancy and profitability to the unit?
- Can we evaluate the SNF alternatives in the Valley and their capacity to absorb our patients?
Hirsch said the task force will provide regular updates to the community through blog posts and press releases and plans an interim report to the board in October, which the public is invited to attend. In addition, the task force is planning on holding at least one study session for the public to attend and provide input as the group examines the situation.