John Blythe appointed to KVHD board seat

By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun

At the monthly meeting of the Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) Board of Directors held on May 3, the Board voted to appoint John Blythe to fill the seat vacated after Director Tom Wright passed away in March. Other items of note discussed at the meeting were the selection of a construction company for the Rural Health Clinic expansion, new programs to reduce drug overdoses and a financially healthy March for the District.

Three applications were received by KVHD from these candidates seeking the Board appointment: John Blythe, Tom Bostick, and Bob Woods. All three of the applicants had previously run for election to seats on the KVHD Board. The Board reviewed each application in advance of the meeting and questioned each candidate during the open session for further clarification. The questions centered on the amount of time each could devote to KVHD matters during this critical time in its development and what each could contribute. After a motion to appoint John Blythe received a majority vote, the oath of office was administered by Board Chair David Derr and Blythe was installed as an interim Board member until the public can elect a permanent member at the next general election in 2018. The Board expressed its appreciation to all candidates for applying.

For those unfamiliar with his background, John Blythe is a graduate of Kern Valley High School and Cerro Coso College. He currently serves as President of Kern River Valley Revitalization, Inc. and is on the Board of Directors of the Kern River Valley Cemetery District. For many years he has engaged in non-profit volunteer work with the Exchange Club and other community organizations and manages his family’s hotel and restaurant in Mt. Mesa as well as his own film production business. After having previously run for election for KVHD Board seats and attending many Board and committee meetings, he is familiar with District issues and finances.

Other presentations to the Board included the Kern Valley Hospital Foundation report stating that $45,249 has been disbursed from the Erskine Fire Relief Fund, with an additional $2,900 pending. Appliances purchased for the FEMA mobile home units (MHUs) will be installed as soon as the keys to the units are obtained. There will be a two- or three-week delay until the MHUs pass another inspection.

CEO Tim McGlew reported that at the Building and Planning Committee meeting on April 25, the Board awarded a contract for the Rural Health Clinic expansion project to the lowest bidder, JTS Construction of Bakersfield. Construction timelines will be set shortly. KVHD has signed an agreement to become an ultrasound technician training site in keeping with educational goals in its mission statement. Efforts to educate the public on Measure C are ongoing, including a live radio town hall on Thursday evening, May 11, at 6:00 p.m. on 102.5 FM.

Chief Nursing Officer Mark Gordon announced that KVHD has applied to Kaiser Permanente for a grant to develop an educational program for local students on the dangers of using controlled substances, and for seniors on proper storage of their narcotic medications. KVHD is committed to providing leadership in health promotion throughout the district. The District is engaged in another effort to reduce drug overdose deaths through its Controlled Substances Initiative (CSI) in partnership with Dignity Health of Bakersfield. The CSI offers emergency room physicians a toolkit to safely prescribe pain medication or non-drug treatment after screening patients for current drug use patterns.

CFO Chet Beedle reported that March financials looked very good after an unexpected increase in inpatient bed use. This increase, along with robust use of other services, generated for KVHD its highest ever gross patient revenue for March.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the KVHD Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, June 7 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room.