By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
It was announced by the Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) at its Board of Directors meeting on October 3 that a threat was made against the hospital on September 21 which required the hospital facility to go on lockdown late that Friday afternoon.
The visitor of a patient threatened to bring a gun to the hospital and shoot everyone there, and it was determined that it was a potentially credible threat. The hospital immediately followed workplace violence protocols in which staff had just recently been trained according to a new state mandate. All doors except to the Emergency Room were locked, and all non-essential staff were sent home. The patient to which the visitor referred requested a transfer and was moved to another facility.
Security staff monitored the doors with cameras and patrolled the exterior of the building. A photo of the individual who had come into the hospital earlier in the day was retrieved from the cameras and was then sent to each hospital department, to the Sheriff’s Office, and to the bus line used by the perpetrator so its staff could also be on watch. The Sheriff’s Office was soon able to make contact with the individual making the threats.
The episode understandably created concern among staff. Debriefing meetings are being held within each department to discuss ideas for increased security and to create any additional recommendations which could be presented to the Board at a later date. Discussed at the board meeting was the importance of continued protection provided by the Sheriff’s Office, and that any reduction in their staff levels in the Kern River Valley (KRV) could leave KVHD facilities vulnerable.
A memo went out to staff commending them for the calmness exhibited that evening and encouraging them to share their concerns and ideas. Additional training will be provided and revised to reflect any new security recommendations.
Also announced at the Board meeting was the upcoming addition of wound care services to be offered at KVHD. Dr. Bailey is the plastic surgeon who will be seeing patients and performing the procedures locally. In addition, Sanderling Renal Services has begun providing in-home dialysis services to patients living in the KRV through a KVHD contract. A new pharmacist has been hired who has been making improvements and updates at the KVHD Mesa Clinical Pharmacy.
New regulations to govern hospital discharges of homeless patients in California was just signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown effective January 1, 2019. Some of the provisions of SB1152 are that these patients must be provided with clothing and meals, be given all immunizations and a supply of medications, and be transported to a homeless shelter or other protected location within a 30-mile radius. Since there is no homeless shelter in the KRV and facilities in Bakersfield are farther than 30 miles away, KVHD and other rural healthcare districts will need to determine how they are able to comply with the law.
Financial results after two months into the 2018-2019 fiscal year show that KVHD has a nearly $95,000 surplus. Doctor visits at Mountain View Health Center have increased due in large part to the addition of Dr. Sarah Lopez to its staff, and use of laboratory services and outpatient imaging has also increased. The number of residents in the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) are gradually increasing, but are still substantially below last year’s totals. Until those numbers increase, all other KVHD services need to remain at higher levels to compensate for the financial underperformance of the SNF. KVHD vendors are slow to be paid, so the Board of Directors has asked for more detailed information about the aging of those bills. The Board will be meeting with Administration to work out a solution.
The KVHD website at www.kvhd.org has been significantly redesigned on a new platform and will go live the week of October 8. It will be more user-friendly, interactive, and educational. Medication prescriptions can be ordered online and patients can be notified on their smartphones when their orders are ready for pickup. Plans are being made to videotape the Board of Director meetings for transparency and public convenience, and make them available for streaming on demand. KVHD is open to ideas from the community for additional features to add to its website.
For those wanting to attend the KVHD Board of Directors meetings in person, the next meeting will be held one day after Election Day on November 7, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room.