Sonoma Valley Hospital

June Board Chair Report

June 18, 2024

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June 7, 2024  

Dear Sonoma Valley Community,  
Before the June Board meeting, I was proud to attend the press conference hosted by the City of Sonoma in cooperation with the Sonoma Sister Cities Association to honor the donation of an ambulance filled with medical supplies to Ukraine. His Excellency Dmytro Kushneruk, Consul General of Ukraine, was there in person. Many community partners, including Sonoma Valley Hospital, played a vital role in this humanitarian effort to support Sonoma’s Sister City, Kaniv, and the broader Ukrainian community amidst the ongoing war with Russia. What a lovely afternoon – Sonoma’s decommissioned ambulance has a useful new home, making it the 83rd piece of equipment sent by a nonprofit, the community effort was palpable, and the weather was perfect. 

At the Board meeting just a couple of hours later, much of our focus centered around GROWTH of the Health Care District. 

Community partner By the Bay Health’s new CEO Skelly Wingard, RN, MSN, gave a very informative presentation, going over the history, growth and evolution of the organization. Celebrating their 50th anniversary this upcoming year, By the Bay Health was first incorporated in Marin County in 1975, the first hospice care in California and second in the US. With 5% of Sonoma Valley Hospital’s patients going to palliative or hospice care, we referred 22 patients in the last year directly into hospice with no wait time for care. 

In my last Board Chair Report, I mentioned an initiative from Board Member Bill Boerum regarding establishing one or two new services, or expanding existing services, to attract out-of-district patients.  The agenda item for this meeting was whether to establish an ad hoc committee to look into this further.  After vigorous and inclusive discussion, the Board was unable to agree to pursue the initiative but chose rather to have an increased resolve to expand upon, to grow, what we are already doing well. Much consideration was given to the financial risk of new programs versus growing in our current areas of strength.  The Board expressed appreciation to Bill for all the time and effort he put into this initiative.  

Dave Pier, Executive Director, gave his annual report.  Sonoma Valley Hospital is fortunate to have such a high-functioning and successful Foundation to support us with capital projects.  In the last ten years, the Foundation has raised over $29 million for major projects including the Outpatient Diagnostic Center, Epic/MyChart, and ICU remodel. I found the Foundation’s production benchmarks to be particularly impressive. The fundraising ratios were far ahead of other organizations our size. The return on investment is about $6 (industry standard $2.79) and the cost to raise a dollar is $0.16 ($0.36). New this year is the strategic priority to support SVH as it strengthens its affiliation with UCSF. Meanwhile, The Foundation has raised 75% of its goal for the PT expansion and is still looking for community support.  Please click on this link if you are interested. 

The Board approved the FY2025 budget which was thoroughly vetted through a joint Board/Finance committee meeting last week. Ben Armfield, CFO, spoke to FY25’s Goals & Guiding Principles – to achieve financial improvement, realize growth, and regain trajectory. We look to do that through operational improvement, cash improvement from operations, and to build back to FY23 financial performance to re-establish trajectory towards an operational break-even. Our plan for budget growth includes the MRI expansion, PT expansion, 1206(b) clinic expansion, orthopedic recruitment, and revenue enhancement initiatives.

Additionally, Mr. Armfield stated that April was a very positive month for the hospital – marking the second consecutive month where our financial results exceeded the ‘rebased’ expectations given this transition period. Mr. Armfield also touched on the many factors that led to decreased financial performance for FY24, mitigated by a remarkable effort by SVH staff and Leadership to cut expenses, including furloughed or unpaid time off. 

John Hennelly’s report focused on updates regarding growth initiatives, such as the ICU renovation and Physical Therapy expansion. The permanent installation project for our new MRI machine is underway, and the temporary installation is nearing completion.  Unfortunately, we are still awaiting final inspection by the State, now tentatively scheduled for early July.  This wait has been very frustrating for all of us, but we are ready to go once the State signs off. Meanwhile, we are beginning training this week. 

Dr. Sabrina Kidd reported a fairly routine month with a couple of exciting highlights. Our geriatric nurse practitioner, Becky Spear, is now seeing patients in our Family Practice facility on Perkins St, the new orthopedist, Dr. Walter is set to begin June 24th, and Drs. Kidd and Alexandridis are now part of the SVH Specialty Clinic as of June 1. 

I’m looking forward to our next meeting on July 11, 2024. Thank you to our community partner La Luz for hosting us in Booker Hall next month. Please note the July meeting is on the second Thursday of the month due to the Fourth of July holiday. Board meeting updates and agendas can be found here as the date nears.

If you would like to watch the June meeting in full, a video recording is available here. 

Warm regards,  
Judith Bjorndal, M.D.
Board Chair, Sonoma Valley Health Care District  

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