Covid-19 and Other Community Health Concerns
Covid-19 y otros problemas de salud de la comunidad
Sonoma Valley Hospital
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A Great Team Makes for a Great Hospital

May 11, 2023

A Great Team Makes for a Great Hospital 

It is important to remember that a great hospital is built on a great team of people. Each year we hear from the Chief Human Resource Officer summing up the year from the human resource perspective. Chief HR Officer Lynn McKissock reported on some advances in our policies and pay scales regarding the 331 employees who work at Sonoma Valley Hospital.

Last fall Sonoma Valley Hospital conducted a deep analysis of pay and benefit structures. They discovered that while on average our employees’ pay was in alignment with the market’s 50th percentile, our salary structure (pay ranges) appeared to be a bit low – for some employees more than others. The team then used recommended tools to adjust our salary structure and increase the wage floor which went into effect in October 2022. Now all staff are being paid a rate that falls within these new, increased salary ranges. Yet some employees still are not in a salary range that is commensurate with their years of experience, education, etc. Ms. McKissock said, “We know that SVH must live within its means, so it is our goal – as we get busier and increase our revenues – to provide further adjustments for more individuals and ensure that everyone is earning the wage they deserve.”

Meanwhile, a survey of employees found that they rated the hospital consistently high especially in regard to how hard our staff works to exceed the expectations of the people this hospital serves, how the team treats one another with respect and the excellent multidisciplinary teamwork.   The board was pleased to hear that the HR team submitted applications for retention payments from the Department of Health Care Services for healthcare workers who worked through the Covid epidemic. 238 of our employees were awarded these payments of $1,000 for full time and $750 for part time. The Board commended these employees for their extraordinary service during this difficult time.

Hospital Review. Every three years, The Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality (CIHQ), a hospital accreditation program, performs a spot check of hospitals without prenotification. They arrive and evaluate every aspect of the hospital according to the minimum standards set forth by the federal government. Sonoma Valley Hospital just underwent this review in April. According to Chief Medical Officer Sujatha Sankaran, “We did exceptionally well, thanks to our wonderful team and dedicated staff.” The few areas that are being addressed for improvement include physician verbal orders, Epic documentation, and use of order sets. 

Strategic Plan. The Board received the final copy of the strategic plan at the May board meeting. CEO John Hennelly reported that they are beginning the development of business plans related to various components of the plan. (The plan is available for community viewing at the Sonoma Valley Hospital website by clicking here.) The four pillars of the plan are: realignment of the main campus to better serve community needs, bringing care into the community, sustainability, and seismic compliance.

Seismic Update. The Board received a more optimistic seismic update from Bryan Bucklew, President and CEO Hospital Council North and Central California, than he gave us last year. There is some movement in the Legislature to address the unrealistic seismic standards upgrades for 2030 for community hospitals set by the state in the 1990’s. Three bills have been introduced to address the situation, most involving pushing back the update completion deadline. We will continue to keep you posted. 


•    Emergency Room. CMO Dr. Sankaran provided a follow up on contracting with Napa Valley Emergency Medical Group physicians as Emergency Department partners at Sonoma Valley Hospital. Beginning August 1, the Group will provide six ED Board Certified physician partners and one new partner, five of whom reside in Sonoma and many of whom trained or taught at the nation’s premier institutions (Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, Highland, UC Davis). The stated goal is to provide advancement in the care provided to emergency department patients with current evidence-based medicine, point-of-care ultrasound, while offering a wide procedural breadth and clinical options that are not currently available at SVH.

•    Specialists. SVH continues to attract specialists. Tele-Urology Services are coming to Sonoma Valley Hospital in July. Dr. Peter Carroll will start seeing patients via telehealth after the July 4 weekend. Dr. Carroll is a world-renowned urologist, distinguished chair of Urology at UCSF, and is the recipient of a number of leadership and scholarly awards.

•    Farewell to team member. Celia Kruse de la Rosa, SVH Director of Community Outreach and Marketing, is relocating to Southern California and is being replaced by Dawn Castelli who steps in this month as Manager of Community Outreach and Marketing. Celia served the hospital for nearly a decade and was instrumental in developing and implementing the hospital’s community outreach and marketing programs. Celia is a well loved and respected contributor to Sonoma Valley Hospital and will be missed.

•    Finances. The hospital had another strong financial month in March, surpassing February as the best month the hospital has posted this fiscal year when looking at operating margin. We took another important step forward in cash collections this past month due to the new EPIC system put in place last December. According to CFO Ben Armfield, “We are now on a trajectory to end the fiscal year right at our days cash on hand target.” It’s great to see our investments in better systems pay off. 

•    Covid. We were pleased to hear from Mr. Hennelly that, “After 3 years of headlining reports to you, Covid is relegated to the end of my report. It continues to wane. Staff quarantines remain very low, and community requests for testing has all but stopped. Daily inpatient census with Covid have ranged from 0-2. We continue to track the virus and its new variants, but impact on the hospital has all but disappeared.”

This is National Hospital Week which allows us to pause a moment and send our appreciation to all the team members at Sonoma Valley Hospital. From surgery to diagnostics to accounting to human resources, we appreciate each member of the team. This honorary week also overlaps with National Nurses Week. If you are visiting the hospital this week, be sure to let the folks who work there know of your appreciation too. We are very lucky to have such a high-quality community hospital in our valley and its high quality first and foremost is because of our people. 

Next Board Meeting

The next regular District Board meeting will be held on Thursday, June 1, 2023, at 6 pm. The public is encouraged to participate by attending the meeting either in person or via Zoom. The in-person meeting will be held at Sonoma City Council Chamber (on the Plaza). The Zoom link and meeting agenda are both available on the hospital website at



Judith Bjorndal, M.D.

Chair, Board of Directors

Sonoma Valley Health Care District

Emergency: Call 911707.935.5000347 Andrieux Street, Sonoma, CA 95476DirectionsContact
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