Some endings and some beginnings for Sonoma Valley HospitalNovember 9, 2022
November was my last as a Sonoma Valley Healthcare District Board member and chair. It’s been a great honor to serve the community and the district over the last eight years. I have some thoughts on the accomplishments in these years and the future at the bottom of this report. But, first, an update on our board meeting.
MyChart for SVH Patients
One of the most exciting projects of late is coming to completion December 3 when our patients will have greater access to their SVH medical records through SVH’s new patient electronic health record system called EPIC. EPIC includes MyChart which allows patients to better manage their family’s healthcare. Each hospital and physician group has their own version of MyChart. However, most of them, including ours, allow patients to share patient data with other hospitals and physicians (but only with permission). The user-friendly dashboards allow patients or their medical guardians to check test results (labs and medical imaging), and receive other updates from services received at the Hospital.
The report to the board from the project manager indicated that as of now, all systems will be ready for the go-live date which is December 3, as anticipated. The SVH team is currently staging rehearsals to prep for the day. Any patient can sign-up and register to access their digital SVH medical record beginning December 3. If patients have given authorization to receive their medical information via text or email this is how they will receive their activation codes. More details will be forthcoming as December 3 approaches. Very exciting.
Welcoming our new Chief Medical Officer
We were joined at the board meeting by Sonoma Valley Hospital’s new Chief Medical Officer (CMD), Dr. Sujatha Sankaran. She just started the position on November 1st and we are excited to have her global experience as she works closely with the hospital’s medical directors in overseeing existing services and helping plan new services and programs. Dr. Sankaran is board certified in Internal Medicine with a focused practice in Hospital Medicine and has been on the faculty at UCSF since 2011.Dr. Sankaran will be relocating her medical practice to the Sonoma Valley. Welcome aboard Dr. Sankaran!
Exploring new ideas for the Sonoma Valley
Part of a community hospital’s mandate is listening to the community. Based on a recommendation that SVH explore the idea of starting a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in the Sonoma Valley, we invited Peter Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President of the National PACE Association, to the board meeting to learn more. PACE serves those over 55 years of age suffering from multiple chronic and complex illnesses, in essence, patients who otherwise would be candidates for intensive care at a nursing home. As an alternative, PACE allows patients to remain at home while receiving comprehensive holistic care through trips to a nearby PACE center. PACE patient care is overseen by a multi-disciplinary team and PACE organizations provide a broad array of services to their members including transportation and food staff. Once up and running, this all-inclusive care is financed by payments from MediCal and Medicaid rather than per service fees. It has proven to effectively improve the quality of life for many and reduce the costs of caring for the frail and elderly.
We learned that while this is an innovative program that represents an affordable solution to caring for our most fragile and vulnerable populations, the application process can be as long two to three years, and the expense of building a PACE center and launching the program hovers at $10 million. Nevertheless, the Board expressed interest in learning more.
What we’ve accomplished together
In this, my final board update, I thought it would be useful to revisit some of the hospital and healthcare district’s most important accomplishments over the last eight years. Topping the list is the strong and productive affiliation we’ve built with one of the country’s top hospitals, UCSF. This relationship has already delivered tremendous value to our community via emergent support during the pandemic and IT attacks and recruitment of top talent for the hospital, and the future holds potential for even more benefits as UCSF moves to relocate services to our hospital and provides our patients with enhanced access to their services.
SVH also played a leadership role in the early vaccination campaigns and continuing to educate and inform the community about the pandemic. Our hospital foundation and incredible donors have allowed us to invest in our hospital and built world-class facilities and purchased new technology equipment resulting in our new CT Scan, 3D Mammography and forthcoming MRI. As described above, we’ve upgraded our Electronic Health Records system with EPIC, providing our patients with access to MyChart in just a few weeks so they can better access their health information and services. We’ve also chosen to focus on things we can do well and exited service lines where we weren’t expert at managing – while preserving most of those services through partnerships.
We weathered a brutal parcel tax campaign (twice) and came back last year with a 10-year ballot measure that passed with almost 80%. We have hired an exceptional new leader in CEO John Hennelly who took over during the pandemic and in his very early days, was faced with finding solutions for completing our Outpatient Diagnostic Center project and who now continues to work improve our partnerships and services. And while we have not finalized our growth strategy, nor have we solved the financial conundrum we face (and which all hospitals in our country are facing), I firmly believe that we are developing the tools to chart a course to growth and greater stability.
Dr. Michael Mainardi, who has served as Second Vice Chair on the board and has been both a long-time member and chair of the Quality Committee is also stepping down at this time. Michael and I ran a joint campaign for the board in 2018 and I have appreciated his enormous contributions to the hospital since that time. Michael brought a clinician’s perspective to our board and always has asked the most inciteful questions during deliberations. As a former chair of the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, Michael has been a strong voice for a deeper collaboration with our local clinic. We are grateful to Michael for his service and the incredible prospective he provided as both a physician and a leader in our community.
Over these eight years, I have gained tremendous respect for the Sonoma Valley Hospital professionals who work to ensure that we have a high-quality community hospital, emergency room, and great physicians here in the Valley.
I am excited to see what happens next and, as I depart, I’m very confident in the talents and strengths of the current board and Denise Kalos and Wendy Myatt, the two exceptional new board members who will begin their term in December. Our board committees include incredible volunteer community members. And, we have a compassionate, experienced, and talented team of physicians, nurses, techs, administrators, and support staff who provide top-quality healthcare for our community. And best of all we have a community that supports and believes in us.
I’m proud to have been a part of it. Thank you.
Chair of the SVHCD Board of Directors