Recovering From The Fires

Oct 20, 2017 | From the SVH CEO

As the Hospital, along with the rest of Sonoma Valley, steps back from the state of emergency, we have been assessing our response. We realize that the Hospital plays a critical role in the community’s ability to respond to a disaster and we take this responsibility seriously. Hospital leadership has begun meeting to review our practices and identify what worked well and what we could do better in the future. We will share our de-brief and more about Emergency Preparedness at the November board meeting.

Fortunately, much went well. Because of the dedication of our staff and physicians, we were able to remain staffed around-the-clock and handled all emergency medical needs. The first thing we do when a disaster occurs is create an incident command center within the Hospital to monitor developments, communicate with outside agencies and other nearby hospitals, and coordinate our response. We formed it the night the fires began and it stayed active 24/7 for a week.

Our priority is always patient safety. We immediately prepared to evacuate patients and staff, if needed and stayed in readiness for this option throughout the week, which fortunately did not become necessary. Our command center stayed in close touch with local emergency response agencies which always do a great job communicating with emergency responders.

We suspended non-urgent medical care, such as outpatient services and elective surgeries on Tuesday, and focused on emergency services. All services supporting emergency services, such as ICU, radiology, and lab, remained operational, and our standby power was available as needed. Our Skilled Nursing Facility and Medical Surgical Unit also remained open with our amazing nursing team. It was gratifying to see that so many of our staff, including a number who had to evacuate or lost their homes, made Sonoma Valley Hospital a priority.

Air quality became a serious issue following several days of fires. Our engineering team worked quickly to ensure that patients and staff breathed healthy air. The Sonoma Valley Fire Department visited the hospital twice to test the air and found quality good both times. We supplemented our OSHPD compliant standard system, (with pre- and final-air purification filters), with nineteen “air scrubbers” for patient areas. These scrubbers contain a HEPA filter that removes 99.97% of particulates and a carbon filter to remove odors.

There are many to recognize at the Hospital for their outstanding efforts – the staff members, nurses and physicians who worked to keep the hospital open and functioning during a very stressful time. I feel proud and blessed to work with such dedicated professionals. I also want to thank the amazing team at the City Emergency Operations Center led by Cathy Capriola and Bret Sackett. They made sure our Hospital was a priority. And I want to extend our deepest gratitude to the incredible Fire, Emergency and Police teams who kept us all safe.

This experience showed once again how truly committed everyone is to our community. I am honored to live here and serve with all of you in Sonoma Valley.

In good health,


Kelly Mather
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sonoma Valley Hospital