February Board Chair LetterFebruary 7, 2024
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Dear Sonoma Valley Community,
There were some notable changes at our latest Board meeting, held on February 1. Since the pandemic, we have become accustomed to holding our meetings in the City Council chambers with essentially no audience. This past Thursday, however, there actually were members of the community as well as employees of the hospital present, which was delightful and welcome. I hope this is the beginning of a new trend. We also welcomed our new board clerk, who brings experience and enthusiasm to the team.
Focus on Patient Care: Sonoma Valley Hospital Patient Care Services Report
Patient care stands at the core of our hospital’s mission, and it was the central theme of our meeting. Jessica Winkler, Chief Nursing Officer at SVH, presented the annual Patient Care Services report, highlighting the exceptional work her department performs at Sonoma Valley Hospital.
Patient Care Services (PCS) is comprised of nurses and technicians, who make up 35% of the hospital staff (123 of 346 employees). Our nursing staff collectively boasts an impressive 1,536 years of nursing experience, averaging 19 years per nurse. Specifically at Sonoma Valley Hospital, our nurses have contributed 637 years of dedicated service.
Ms. Winkler also reported on the number of preceptorships we offer. We currently have students from multiple schools in these roles, including nursing students from Pacific Union College and Gurnick Academy, respiratory therapy students from San Joaquin Valley College, medical assistant and phlebotomy students from Cal Regional Vocational School, surgical technologist and sterile processing technologist students from Altamont Healthcare Vocational School, pharmacy students from Touro University, physical therapy students from the University of New England, and a nurse practitioner preceptorship from Yale University. Not only are we providing an important educational service to the healthcare community at large, but we are also reaping the benefit of enhancing our staff, as many of these students elect to stay on as employees.
Dr. Sujatha Sankaran gave her last Chief Medical Officer report, as she steps aside to refocus on her clinical work at UCSF. She shared her accomplishments during her tenure with us. Her emphasis on creating an age-friendly health system has left a lasting impact on our organization and community. Of note, it has already led to improved mobilization and decreased lengths of stay in our geriatric patient population. We are excited to see this initiative continue to grow and extend into outpatient care.
John Hennelly gave us a brief update on a few issues. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to make progress to date in our attempts to negotiate with Anthem Blue Cross. The housing for the new MRI has been completed, and the magnet itself should be installed very soon.
He invited the community to join our Active Aging Lecture Series at Vintage House in Sonoma, with a focus on mind, body, and spirit. This will take place the last three Fridays in February and will be conducted by community health experts from the hospital. More information and registration details are available on our website at sonomavalleyhospital.org.
In the financial report, Ben Armfield, our Chief Financial Officer, discussed the challenges faced by the hospital in December, falling short of our budget expectations. The administration is taking steps to mitigate the situation by tightening expenses. The hospital was recently awarded a zero-interest $3 million loan, which will be used to pay down an existing line of credit, significantly decreasing interest payments.
Invitation to Join and Collaborate
In this year’s election cycle, there will be openings for positions on the Board, and the filing deadline is August. We encourage anyone interested in joining our board to explore this opportunity by attending our meetings, to become familiar with what we do and to explore whether you might be interested. You can reach any of our board members by finding their emails on our website.
Thank you once again for your support and engagement with Sonoma Valley Hospital. We remain committed to providing outstanding healthcare services to our community.
Please join us for our next Board Meeting on the first Thursday of the month, March 7, 2024. For details, please check out our website.
Judith Bjorndal, M.D.
Board Chair, Sonoma Valley Health District