Taking on the Future at Sonoma Valley Hospital

Sep 8, 2022 | SVHCD Board Chair Report

September SVHCD Board Chair Report

This month I’m stepping in for Board Chair Joshua Rymer to report on the September board meeting. 

Over the last year, Sonoma Valley Hospital has taken strides to assure the viability of our community hospital, seeking evolution in our infrastructure, in our medical offerings, in our team, in our financials, and even in our forecast for our future. It was gratifying at the recent board meeting to see how seriously our team has taken this overarching goal and how far along we are in accomplishing vital steps toward that end. 

At the September meeting, the board heard reports on a number of issues. Individually each report demonstrated a positive step forward; together they amount to a noteworthy achievement in securing Sonoma Valley Hospital’s future. Here’s what we learned. 

MyChart coming your way  

From our EPIC/CT team, we heard about the progress the hospital is making to prepare for the launch of the new electronic patient record system, which offers MyChart and access by patients to their own records. At this juncture, staff is actively training on its use so they will be ready for its December debut.  

Securing our data and upgrading our systems

We heard from our Information Technology department manager Terry McKinney who was hired last Fall and immediately set several priorities, the first being to bolster security and protection of data. The Board was happy to hear about the modernizing of our systems involving upgrades to enterprise levels of security. Other priorities led to upgrades in our infrastructure, assistance with EPIC/CT installation, and working with our affiliate UCSF to discover economical and future IT solutions. 

CT Scanner live  

CEO John Hennelly reported on infrastructure gains as well with the new 128- slice CT scanner, part of the Outpatient Diagnostic Center, which is now live with staff participating in applications training. 

Additions to the team

Hennelly also reported that with a new Chief Nursing Officer on board, they are now focused on completing the recruitment for Chief Medical Officer with a candidate to be secured in the next few weeks. In addition, he described the solicitation of specialty physicians to our area, an ongoing strategy designed to better serve the Sonoma Valley. 

Community involvement

The Quality Committee is one of five committees of the Sonoma Valley Hospital District Board. The work of these committees is significantly aided by input from community members, who are appointed by the Board and volunteer their time. The appointments of two new, very qualified members were approved and they will be joining the Quality Committee. Sonoma Valley residents Kathleen R. Beebe, PhD, RNC-OB and Dr. Carl Speizer, MD, both bring strong medical backgrounds to the committee, and we welcome them.

Prudent financial goals for the next five years  

We heard about the new five-year Capital Plan from newly appointed Chief Financial Officer, Ben Armfield. The plan reflects capital purchases that are projected to be funded over the next five years by the hospital directly. The amount is expected to decrease with the completion of two significant projects, the Outpatient Diagnostic Center (ODC) and the installation of EPIC/CT. In addition, Ben described a roadmap to financial viability, setting the goal of reducing the financial gap in revenues still evident and created by the pandemic. Another is to reach operational break-even status by the end of 2027. Methods to achieve both include strategic growth in the hospital’s services. 

Strategic Planning

All this will be discussed at the Board Strategic Planning Retreat set for October. In preparation for the retreat, the Board heard from Sg2 Consulting, a strategic options and planning firm serving more than 1000 hospital clients. Sg2 defined some of the crossroad decisions community hospitals across the nation face, including how to stay financially viable and what services to provide to do so.    

How we are doing

Sonoma Valley Hospital is proactively taking on the future. One thing that was clear to all of us is that in our partnership with UCSF, the bar has been raised and we have risen to meet it with each of these accomplishments. 

Covid update   

One final note from our CEO John Hennelly. The Covid pandemic/endemic continues. We experienced a predictable lull in August following the surge in July. As we begin September, the virus’ impact on Sonoma also appears to be in a lull. We remain prepared as the next upswing could happen at any time. 

Next Board Meeting

The next regular District Board meeting will be held on Thursday, October 6, at 6 pm. For safety reasons, Board meetings will continue to be held via video conferencing. The public is encouraged to participate, and video conferencing details are available on the Hospital website. Public comment is always welcome.



Judith Bjorndal, M.D.
First Vice Chair, SVHCD Board of Directors