Listening To Our Community

Oct 8, 2019 | SVHCD Board Chair Report

As many of you know, we conducted a survey this summer to better understand community perceptions of the hospital. It updated a similar survey conducted in 2015. Both were conducted by an independent research firm, and the results were reviewed at the October board meeting.

I’m pleased to say that opinions about SVH are mostly positive, especially with regard to services.

  • Eight out of 10 are satisfied with the level of care received
  • The majority give the hospital high marks for services, rating the ER, Laboratory, Medical Imaging and Rehab/PT as “excellent,” and inpatient and surgery services as “good/very good.”
  • One out of three respondents report their opinion of the hospital has improved in recent years.
  • Two out of three respondents say they plan to use SVH again

The vast majority of community members believe it “essential” that our community has an ER and a hospital. Eight out of 10 see SVH as important to the health of our community.

Maybe not surprisingly, positive opinions in a number of areas have declined a little since 2015 and critical comments have increased. Many of the critical comments reflect concerns for the hospital’s financial stability and unhappiness with the need for a parcel tax. Some also questioned recent decisions to close OB and make changes to Home Care and Skilled Nursing.

We take the results of this survey very seriously and will continue to challenge ourselves to more clearly communicate with the community the reasons behind our decisions, reiterate the strengthening of our financial position, and make sure that the community knows the high level of care and service that everyone on staff provides for patients. 

These are challenging times for small hospitals, and I believe we are doing better than most and making significant progress in many areas. Overall, we’re gratified to have all of the feedback, good and not-so-good. I was particularly moved by the many wonderful comments about the high quality of care that residents have received. We are committed to continue improving the dialogue with the community.

Marketing and Growth

Celia Kruse de la Rosa, who is responsible for hospital marketing, provided an end-of-fiscal year report, noting continued growth in several areas that contribute to the improved financial health of the hospital.

  • Surgery volumes grew by 8 percent in the past year. This maintains the growth trend we have seen since 2016, resulting in a 34 percent increase in surgeries over the four years.
  • This growth came from increased volumes in pain management, ophthalmology, general surgery, bariatric surgery and endoscopy.
  • We saw small declines in general orthopedic and total joint surgery, and a few other areas (urology, ENT, podiatry, GYN.)
  • Total reimbursements for Outpatient Surgeries reached $11 million, up from $10.4 million the prior year. Direct margins, at $3.6 million, declined slightly from the $3.9 million in FY18.

Kruse de la Rosa also reported the Emergency Department saw more than 10,000 visits during the year, of which 42 percent were Kaiser patients. The ED also received Acute Stroke Ready certification this past year with support from UCSF Neurology.

She said that the hospital plans to continue expanding bariatric (weight loss) surgery, with the goal of becoming a regional bariatric program, and further expanding pain management services. Both services involve working more closely with the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center. Another area of focus is breast health services, working with our excellent breast surgeon Dr. Alexis Alexandridis. SVH also will see a new orthopedic specialist this year, which should increase volumes there.

Kruse de la Rosa also reported that SVH leadership and staff volunteered 1,222 hours to community programs and events in the past year, including health fairs and screening clinics.

2020 CEO Goals

Each year the CEO proposes goals for the coming fiscal year. At this meeting the board approved the CEO’s performance goals for fiscal year 2020 which drive any CEO incentive compensation that would be paid in fiscal year 2021. For fiscal 2020, half of the CEO’s goals are related to achieving positive financial performance; 40 percent are related to maintaining and delivering high quality care; and 10 percent are tied to measures of employee engagement and satisfaction. 

Kelly Mather’s goals for this year are appropriately set so that she will receive a bonus only if the hospital’s financial condition continues to improve and meets targets; the quality of care and service continues to be exemplary; and the staff continues to be engaged and have high satisfaction.

Next Board Meeting

Our next regular District Board meeting will be held on Thursday, November 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. 



Joshua Rymer
Chair of the SVHCD Board of Directors