By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
Primary matters discussed at the the Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) Board of Directors meeting on April 3 included an announcement of a vacancy on its board, a public comment about one family’s experiences with inadequacies in the provision of healthcare at the District, new efforts to obtain funding for seismic remodeling, and the recent installation of high speed broadband at the hospital.
Chairman John Blythe announced that newly elected Director Sherrie Montes submitted her written resignation on March 11, and that a replacement will be appointed to fill her seat until voters can re-elect a director in the next general election. Blythe said he was sorry to hear of her resignation as she was already making contributions to the board.
Ms. Montes did not respond to a request for comment from the Kern Valley Sun for this article; privacy is important to her. In an answer to a candidate questionnaire published in the Sun on October 3, 2018, Montes stated in part, “I chose to set my privacy aside and run for a seat on the Board of Directors…”
Residents interested in applying for the vacant director seat must complete an application found on the Board of Directors page on the KVHD website at www.kvhd.org or obtain one from Heidi Sage at the KVHD Administrative Office. Applications for the position will be accepted through Friday, April 12.
Long time district resident Abby Bolt appeared before the Board of Directors to describe a series of encounters with healthcare services provided by Kern Valley Hospital over the years which she described as inadequate and often required transferring the patient out when they should have been able to receive local treatment instead. “My family is trying so hard to support this hospital, but this hospital is not supporting us,” she said. “I hope something changes, and it’s better, and I’m willing to help.”
Bolt will be meeting with CEO Tim McGlew to give additional details about the incidences. Director Charlie Busch thanked her for standing up to give commentary and encouraged other members of the public to make dissatisfactions known so the hospital can learn how to improve its care and customer service when needed.
KVHD had requested that USDA consider reallocating some of the funds from its previously approved $28M loan for the remodel of its ER. McGlew reported the USDA denied that request since those loan funds had to be guaranteed by a public tax measure which had been defeated at the polls. KVHD has now applied for FEMA wildfire grant funds which are allowed in part for seismic upgrades for certain hospitals within California.
High speed broadband installation at KVHD had been delayed due to winter snowpack preventing tower placement at Shirley Peak, but work is now ongoing and service at the hospital is expected to begin by mid-April. Bringing one gigabyte of broadband service into the hospital will improve all its clinical systems, particularly telemedicine and radiological services.
The month of February generated $68,968 in profit for KVHD. Due to earlier month losses, fiscal year-to-date figures show a net loss of $269,368. March revenues were up substantially, so it is expected that the yearly loss will continue to be reduced and show a profit by year-end. The Board of Directors approved forecasted statistics and volumes in preparation for the 2020 fiscal year budget.
Director Gene Parks requested a report explaining the reasons why the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is losing money and detailing possible solutions. Director Busch suggested that KVHD interview SNF staff for their suggestions.
To prepare for operation of the new mobile health clinic when it arrives later this year, the Board approved creation of “KVHD Mobilecare” to operate as an outpatient department under the hospital license and administered by CEO Tim McGlew.
The next KVHD Board of Directors meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1 in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room.