KVHD discusses new tax measure

By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun

At the Board of Directors meeting on December 6, the Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) reported on its planned modifications to the hospital remodel and changes to a new tax measure expected to be placed on the 2018 ballot. Also discussed were additional Kaiser services and improved systems currently being implemented throughout KVHD departments.

The Healthcare District has been incorporating community suggestions into a revised master plan that will reduce the remodel construction costs to be borne by the public. KVHD is attempting to limit the use of tax funds to payment only for patient care service areas such as the Emergency Room and medical/surgical care areas. Administrative area remodels are being minimized, and the Healthcare District is making plans to pay for those portions of the remodel from its own funding sources.

The other change being made to the funding plan is that the entire remodel is to be constructed and paid for by just one tax initiative rather than returning to the public in later years for additional funds to complete the project.

According to a ruling made by the California Supreme Court earlier this year, it is likely that only a simple majority will be required to pass the next KVHD tax measure. This past June, the Measure C parcel tax failed by receiving a 52 percent voter approval rather than the required two-thirds majority, but beginning next year that same 52 percent approval rate could pass the funding measure. Kern County is currently developing a set of rules for determining which tax measures qualify for a simple majority threshold.

In the meantime, legislation is being proposed in Sacramento to overturn the Supreme Court ruling allowing a simple majority for certain tax measures. KVHD is expected to submit another tax measure regardless of these uncertainties. With the significant changes that are being made to meet the public’s needs, the Healthcare District is hopeful that the next tax measure would pass on its own merits even if a two-thirds majority continues to be the required threshold.

KVHD has been working with Kaiser Permanente to secure office space in the Kern River Valley so Kaiser primary care physicians can begin seeing their own patients locally. When the Rural Health Clinic remodel is completed, there may be space available there for a day per month of Kaiser appointments. A contract will be completed later this month to begin doctor visits in 2018 and perhaps to add some Kaiser imaging services at KVHD, as well.

The Healthcare District has been working diligently to revise and digitize its procedure manuals and policies. The Board of Directors approved five manuals and over 75 nursing, laboratory, and other medical policies at the meeting. Once these and remaining policies have been digitized, they will be accessible for reference at each computer terminal, searchable by keywords, and easily revised as needed in the future. The Board commended the work of staff, its own Policy Committee, and the IT Department for their efforts.

Technological advancement is also evident in the implementation of a new electronic records system in the Skilled Nursing Facility. The remaining nursing areas will incorporate the system in January.

As part of a Kaiser grant titled “CSI Momentum,” KVHD has made several presentations to local grammar and middle schools to educate students on the dangers and prevention of opioid addiction. Kern Valley High School students and their parents will take part in three upcoming assemblies. The program has been so well received that Chief Nursing Officer Mark Gordon has been asked to speak at a meeting of the Association of California Healthcare Districts about the project next year.

CFO Chet Beedle announced that in the first four months of the new fiscal year, KVHD generated a surplus of $574,113 which is 83 percent higher than was budgeted.

The next KVHD Board of Directors meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room.