In its meeting last week, the board heard updates on new quality initiatives, an interim report from the Skilled Nursing Facility Task Force, and a guest speaker who reviewed current and upcoming seismic regulations affecting California hospitals.
Board member Jane Hirsch reported on progress made by the Skilled Nursing Facility Task Force, which she chairs. The group was formed last August to investigate ways to keep the SNF viable. The Task Force recommended implementation of several changes to improve financial performance in the unit. Unfortunately, the volume of patients in the unit has not met expectations and the resulting financial performance has been disappointing, even after the operational improvements. However, the hospital has received two proposals from organizations that might be able to assume management of the facility and keep it operating within the hospital. The Task Force has reviewed these and they are being evaluated as options for the future.
There will be a public meeting on Thursday, February 28 at 6:00 pm in the Community Meeting Room on First Street West to provide an update from the Task Force. I encourage all interested parties to attend.
Hospital Quality Report
Danielle Jones, SVH Director of Quality & Risk Management, reported on efforts to ensure continuous quality improvement at the hospital. Jones noted that the hospital is already rated quite high on inpatient safety, quality of care and service – we are a 4 Star Medicare-rated hospital, a ranking which places us among the top 25 percent of hospitals nationally. Kelly Mather noted that our quality practices are a big part of why UCSF chose to affiliate with our hospital.
Jones reported the hospital has implemented initiatives to further improve quality and safety performance even further with the goal of achieving a 5 Star ranking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Presently, only two hospitals in the Bay Area – John Muir and CPMC – have achieved that level of quality, safety and service. The star rating system was created by CMS to help consumers evaluate healthcare providers by determining how well a hospital performs according to key measures.
She said the hospital’s outpatient and emergency services also enjoys high patient satisfaction, according to consistently high RateMyHospital scores. RateMyHospital is a service which surveys patients immediately after an outpatient visit to the hospital.
Jones also reported that the hospital is close to achieving Acute Stroke Ready certification from the Center for Improvement In Healthcare Quality (CIHQ). This certification recognizes hospitals meeting high standards of care for the initial treatment of stroke patients when quick action and proper medication can save lives and limit the long-term disabling effects of strokes. This will mean that Valley residents will have access to our stroke certified services when the need arises. And, as we all know, timely treatment is often a significant factor in successfully treating strokes.
The board heard a report from Dietmar Grellmann, Senior VP of Professional Services at the California Hospital Association, who reviewed current seismic regulations for hospitals in the state and the prospect of additional requirements for seismic upgrades in the future.
The good news is that Sonoma Valley Hospital has met the 2020 seismic standards for safety set by the California legislature some time ago. These standards require that hospitals must be capable of remaining standing in the event of a major earthquake ensuring patient, employee and visitor safety. Through a concerted effort involving retrofitting and new construction begun many years ago, and funded through a community-approved bond issue, SVH met these rigorous safety standards early and is in complete compliance.
Grellmann also discussed further regulations that could require California hospitals to meet even higher standards by 2030. These standards go beyond the safety standards already achieved and would require hospitals to stay open and operational after a significant quake. If this additional set of seismic standards were to be applied to hospitals like ours, they could require costly additional investments that would provide minimal additional benefits. Grellmann reported the CHA is evaluating the impact of these regulations on hospitals and expects to introduce legislation to amend these future standards in the coming year.
In her monthly report, CEO Kelly Mather discussed the administration’s recent efforts to improve financial performance, including conducting department operating reviews to further reduce expenses. She also reported that the hospital has recently drawn a new vascular surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulders. Mather then updated the board about the upcoming consolidation of inpatient services on the third floor which will improve both efficiency and safety, and continuing efforts to attract specialists to Sonoma to improve revenue.
Our next regular District Board meeting will be held on Thursday, March 7, at 6 pm in the Community Meeting Room, 177 1st St. West in Sonoma. The public is welcome to attend, and public comment is always encouraged.
Chair of the SVHCD Board of Directors