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 Study in Goals Set and Progress Underway

April 19, 2023

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The April Board meeting was the first to be held at the City Council chambers since before the pandemic. CEO John Hennelly and CMO Dr. Sankaran both highlighted Sonoma Valley Hospital’s revised Covid policy. In keeping with changes made by the CDC and CDPH, masking will be highly recommended for staff and no longer required for visitors. Members of the public are welcome to attend Board meetings in person, and the option to attend virtually will be continued. The meeting itself was a study in goals set and progress underway.

The Strategic Plan comes together
Mr. Hennelly presented the first draft of the Strategic Plan for the next five years, which was finalized after input from the community “listening sessions,” the community survey, and partner and SVH team meetings that all transpired in the first two months of this year. The report, which should be available to the public by the end of April, includes four pillars of focus. They include realigning the SVH main campus with community needs, bringing care into the community, ensuring the financial future of the hospital, and staying compliant with seismic regulations.

The Board requested that quantitative results be added to the plan, and Mr. Hennelly assured us that there would be many in the form of specific business plans developed for each initiative. After complimenting John and his leadership team on months of effort, we approved the plan by unanimous vote. We are looking forward to updates as the initiatives are advanced.

First CMO Report welcomed
Sujatha Sankaran, MD, is SVH’s newly appointed Chief Medical Officer. This was her first presentation to the Board and it was encouraging to see how much of the strategic plan has been anticipated and already moved forward. Her report focused on four areas:
• Clinical updates, including Covid, EPIC, and Emergency Room protocols
• Improving subspecialty access
• A Geriatrics (age-friendly) program. Steps already taken to accomplish this include the formation of a multidisciplinary geriatrics committee as well as the planned addition of a nurse practitioner specializing in geriatric medicine to see geriatric patients, provide inpatient consultation, and outreach to community geriatric resources.
• Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. To ensure that all patients who visit SVH receive equitable and high-quality care, a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) committee has been convened.

Improvements in Quality at SVH
In her annual report to the Board, the Director of Quality and Risk Management Kylie Cooper presented many positive advances for the hospital over the last year such as SVH awarded the Silver Plus Award for Stroke Care from the American Heart Association. Her department studies the monthly metrics in a number of categories. Ms. Cooper reported that both mortality rates and the percentage of readmissions to the hospital were both below the 2022 benchmarks. I

Not only does the department monitor these quality metrics, but it also monitors and answers complaints and grievances and implements improvements at the hospital based on those and the quality metrics. She noted that complaints and grievances have measurably decreased in last few months. The Quality Board is now working to help decrease the length of hospital stays, make improvements in sepsis measures and blood contamination procedures with the Emergency Department as well as increase patient satisfaction hospital wide.

• Top Box Trends. The 4th quarter report for 2022 from Chief of Staff Andrew Solomon revealed some great trends in how SVH is viewed by the community. Top Box refers to the number 10 in a scale of 1 to 10. Noteworthy are the Top Box ratings received on the following: 78% of the patients surveyed gave ‘Recommended the Facility’ a 10 rating. Personal Treatment’ received a 10 from 96 percent of those surveyed. ‘Discharge procedures,’ garnered a 10 from 81 percent.
• New Emergency Department Physician Team. Dr. Solomon, Dr. Sukanjan, and Mr. Hennelly all reported that the search for a new Emergency Department board-certified physician group has been completed. The purpose of the outreach was to increase the type of cases that could be treated at SVH and increase quality of care. The contract has been awarded to Napa Valley Emergency Medicine Group pending board approval.
• Working with UCSF. Mr. Hennelly updated the board on the current initiatives with UCSF in and their progress. These include continued joint recruitment of GI specialists based in Sonoma and engaging UCSF faculty in growth of under-represented service lines.

• Financials. Ben Armfield, CFO, reported that February was a very positive month for the hospital financially. Cash collection was up 50% from what had been projected, and while some of this could be attributed to catching up some past due amounts, much of it was due to the effectiveness of the new EPIC system, which has a better documentation and billing feature. (EPIC is now in its fourth month, since launching in December 2022.)

• Committees. The Board approved a new member to the audit committee, Dennis Bloch. A bylaw was passed as suggested by the Governance committee, that committee assignments are for four years and are renewable. It is so gratifying to see the willingness of many very qualified community members to serve on the hospital Board Committees.

• Bank Review. Due to the recent news media coverage of bank insolvencies, the Board asked for and received a risk assessment report about our bank, Union Bank. Union Bank was acquired by US Bancorp in December 2022. US Bancorp is the 6th largest bank in the world with 70,000 employees and $600 billion in assets. It’s also been named one of the 2022 World’s Most Ethical Companies and Fortunes’ most admired super-regional bank. As such, the Board determined there was no risk to SVHCD.

Next Board Meeting
The next regular District Board meeting will be held on Thursday, May 4, 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

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