The first phase of the new Outpatient Diagnostic Center is nearing completion and will be receiving patients by November. Ron Peluso, project manager at Vertran Associates, the firm overseeing construction, updated the board on the project at the meeting last week. He said this phase, which includes the new 128-slice CT scanner and a larger and more comfortable patient waiting area, is expected to come in on budget despite some delays caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
His update comes after the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation’s announcement last week that the capital campaign reached its goal of raising $21 million for the new Center. This is an impressive achievement and the members of the capital campaign committee, led by Simon Blattner, deserve our sincere thanks, as does our community for stepping up to support this critical effort to upgrade our hospital. It’s important to remember that this project is being funded entirely through the generosity of donors.
At this meeting, the board approved the budget for the second phase of the project, which includes a new 3 Tesla MRI, along with other new diagnostic equipment. Construction begins this Fall with completion planned for Summer 2021.
In more good news, the board approved a proposal for the hospital to acquire an energy solution from Unison Energy that uses natural gas to produce electricity onsite. This addresses two challenges the hospital faces – reducing energy costs and maintaining power during an emergency.
This solution will save the hospital an estimated $110,000 each year in energy costs, and allow it to maintain power during an emergency that may exceed the limits of the hospital’s existing back-up generators. Consistent power availability has become an increasing concern with the growing threat of power shutoffs by PG&E during fires and high wind events. The board wants to acknowledge those on the energy committee, from the Finance and Facilities departments, who identified this excellent option and negotiated a favorable contract.
The board approved the formation of a committee to conduct the search for a new CEO to replace Kelly Mather. The committee includes two board members, two community members, two physicians and a representative from UCSF, which is assisting with the search. The committee is moving ahead quickly, holding its first meeting this week, and hopes to have an executive search firm selected by month end. Ideally, the committee will identify and recommend a candidate to the board by year-end.
As I recently reported, CEO Kelly Mather will begin to transition to her new role as CEO of BayHealth in September. She will reduce her SVH hours to half-time on September 1, and move to her new position full time on January 1.
On behalf of the board, I’d like to thank Kelly for her hard work and expertise over the past decade. She has done a remarkable job here in Sonoma during an especially challenging time for healthcare in general and small hospitals in particular. Our hospital is now well prepared for the future, thanks to Kelly and her team’s efforts. And she will leave the hospital in good hands because of the strong leadership team she has assembled.
Chief Medical Officer Sabrina Kidd, MD, reported that, while covid cases in Sonoma and the county increased in July, the hospital is very capably handling the increase and all hospital services remain open. The hospital continues to maintain strict protocols to ensure the safety of patients who visit the hospital including a no-visitor policy with only those seeking services allowed to enter. She encourages those who have delayed seeking medical care because of the coronavirus, including surgeries, to talk with their physician about scheduling them.
Kelly Mather spoke of the strong team effort that has kept the hospital functioning so smoothly during the pandemic. She noted that many in hospital leadership have gone above and beyond in recent months to address the situation while providing ongoing services to the community. She singled out Dawn Kuwahara, Chief Ancillary Officer, and Mark Kobe, Chief Nursing Officer, both of whom have put in long hours as the hospital responded to the Covid-19 situation over the past five months.
Next Board Meeting
The next regular District Board meeting will be held on Thursday, September 3, at 6 pm. Complying with state regulations on physical distancing due to the coronavirus, board meetings are being conducted by video conferencing and the public is encouraged to participate. Video conferencing details are available on the hospital website. Public comment is always welcome.
Chair of the SVHCD Board of Directors