Covid-19 and Other Community Health Concerns
Covid-19 y otros problemas de salud de la comunidad
Sonoma Valley Hospital
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February 2023 Board Chair Report

March 16, 2023

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Taking a Look at SVH’s Amazing Team of Nurses  

The annual report at the February board meeting from Chief Nursing Officer Jessica Winkler in charge of Patient Care Services provided fascinating insight into the people who serve as Sonoma Valley Hospital’s nurses as well as their performance. You’ll find SVH nursing staff in the Emergency Room, on the Medical/Surgical floor, in the intensive care unit, and in Wound Care and other outpatient areas. Nurses also work in surgical services assisting in peri-operative, anesthesia and as surgical technicians, and with sterile processing. SVH nurses are house supervisors and also work in information technology to organize and analyze health records to improve healthcare outcomes. Patient Care Services makes up 37% of the total SVH workforce, with 26% of the SVH workforce serving as nurses. 

Winkler gave a portrait of the nursing staff that showed SVH’s nurses to be highly educated with 35% with associate degrees and 53% having bachelors or higher. The average number of years of experience is 16, ranging from a trainee who is just beginning a nursing career to nurses with 42 years of experience. Staff experience includes more than nursing expertise with added skills in obstetrics and midwifery, public health, pediatric critical care, trauma, and neurosurgery. As a group, they hold a range of specialty certifications. 

The department keeps track of its success and areas for improvement through Clinical Quality and Safety core measures, including stroke and sepsis in the ED, infection prevention and ulcer prevention in inpatient units, and timely giving of antibiotics and monitoring for surgical site infections in surgery. Patients rating their experience with SVH nurses report 4.63 and above on a 5-point scales. External evaluations of the staff found SVH nurses outperforming both the California and national averages. For example, 78% of SVH patients reported that they “always” received help as soon as they wanted. Nationally this average is 66% and in California 61%.   

Patient Care Services had many accomplishments for the year, including increased medical interpreting for languages (Spanish to Ukranian), providing a clinical training site for First Responder students, helping get MyChart operational, and volunteering at high school career days. 

The biggest challenge for the Patient Care Services is filling nursing vacancies which is a problem throughout the medical field. Nationally there is a 17% RN vacancy rate (200,000 positions remain open) and competition for nurses is definitely tough said Winkler. The problem was evident in the first three quarters at SVH, but declined in the 4th. Perhaps the most noteworthy success has been in meeting the challenge of finding nursing staff by working with local colleges so Sonoma Valley Hospital can “grow its own nurses.” And in a world of job hopping, SVH nurses average more than six years at our hospital.  

SVH and the SVHCD Board are extremely proud of its nursing staff and the Patient Care Services department and commend Jessica on her leadership. 

Vision Meetings for the Strategic Plan   

In January, CEO John Hennelly spearheaded a number of “think tanks,” community meetings to help build a vision for Sonoma Valley Hospital’s future. Three public meetings (virtual and in-person) have taken place to date with strong attendance from the community that included positive and constructive feedback. A fourth is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28 at St. Leo’s Church. Partner meetings have taken place as well with La Luz and Hanna Center, and soon the Community Health Center. A report on the outcome of these sessions will be developed and delivered to the Board, followed by a formalized plan. Many Board members attended these sessions and in the Board meeting, they expressed their enthusiasm for the way the meetings have been handled, the attendance, and the great ideas coming from them. If you been unable to attend any of these meetings, you can still have input into the future of your community hospital by completing the survey on the website. 

Brief Updates  

OCD Update. The MRI temporary facility of the Outpatient Diagnostic Center is proceeding on schedule. A brief special public Board meeting will take place in the next few days to deal with two specific issues that require Board approval, but did not make it to the February 2 agenda. (Date and time will be available on the SVH website.

MyChart Check-in. The rollout of MyChart continues to go smoothly. According to CEO John Hennelly, the hospital team is working on streamlining billing and payments on the system currently. Patients wanting to access their hospital records digitally can set up MyChart by visiting for directions or to receive assistance. 

Finance. SVH’s finance report for December was positive with an increase volume at the hospital. The main issue was cash flow as the team adjusts to the new billing system through recently installed EPIC and MyChart system. Additional cash flow pressure came from government funding that was delayed by six months. Adjustments in how to account for this funding in the budget were discussed. 

New idea. At the Board meeting, Board Member Bill Boerum introduced the idea of SVH increasing revenue by using our location to attract consumers from outside of the District to utilize our services. He has compiled a great deal of research on the topic and suggested setting up an Ad Hoc Committee to explore the idea which may be taken up in future board meetings. 

Annual Community Report. Reminder that the Sonoma Valley Hospital Annual Community Report is now available. Please check the SVH website for a digital version.  

Next Board Meeting 

The next regular District Board meeting will be held on Thursday, March 2, 2023, at 6 pm. The public is encouraged to participate. Details on whether the meeting will be in person at the Sonoma City Council Chambers or via Zoom (or possibly both) will be available on the hospital website at Public comment is always welcome. 


Judith Bjorndal, M.D. 
Chair, Board of Directors 
Sonoma Valley Health Care District  

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