By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
At their first meeting of the year held on January 3, the Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) Board of Directors selected its new officers for calendar year 2018.
A slate of officers proposed by Board Member Kathryn Knight was approved by the Board. Officers in new positions are John Blythe as Board Chair, David Derr as First Vice Chair, Barbara Casas as Second Vice Chair, and Kathryn Knight as Secretary, with Charlie Busch continuing in his position as Treasurer.
John Blythe thanked the Board for its support, and the chairmanship was passed to him to lead the rest of the meeting. Blythe is now charged with appointing the Board Committees, including the Building and Planning Committee as well as the Finance Committee, both of which will be quite busy this year finalizing a revised master plan and a new tax measure for placement on the 2018 ballot.
This past month the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) inspected and recertified the Skilled Nursing Facility. In an unusual finding, the CDPH found no improvements to recommend. CEO Tim McGlew praised and thanked the staff for their excellent work which was reflected in this review.
The first phase of the Rural Health Clinic remodel is complete and awaiting a final inspection and approval this week. The staff will then occupy the new space and the second phase of the clinic remodel can begin.
KVHD is currently experiencing a shortage of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) on staff. In November, KVHD submitted an application to CDPH to begin an in-house CNA training program, but the state has not yet responded to its request. In the meantime, Cerro Coso College is teaching a CNA class of up to nine students in January and KVHD hopes to hire those graduates.
KVHD has been integrating behavioral health services with medical treatment under the Prime Program grant awarded to it and many other public hospitals through the Affordable Care Act.
KVHD Prime Project Manager Lisa Wyly and coordinator Vicki Porter were recognized at a state meeting of public hospitals as having developed a model program that other healthcare districts might want to emulate. The Board extended its congratulations to Wyly and Porter for this accomplishment.
Financial results from November showed lower revenues for most services except for behavioral health which increased. Even emergency room (ER) visits were down, but they have since shot up in December due to the large number of flu cases being treated at the Kern Valley Hospital. Chief Nursing Officer Mark Gordon reported that the ER treated about 20 cases within one two-week period in December.
During the public comment period of the Board meeting, a resident expressed concern about a several day wait to fill a prescription at the KVHD Pharmacy. Staff will investigate the cause, such as being due to the type of medication or an operational matter.
The Hospital Foundation will be quite busy this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of KVHD with the community and staff, including a possible “country hoedown” event in May or June. The Heart Walk will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year at its annual event on February 24. The Foundation will be applying for educational grants in 2018 that focus on community wellness.
On another educational matter, the Board passed a motion for its Directors to attend a February Leadership Conference in Sacramento given by the Association of California Healthcare Districts.
Directors must receive Brown Act and ethics training every two years, which is given at this conference, and they are also able to network with other directors during the leadership sessions.
The next KVHD Board of Directors meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 7 at 6:00 p.m. in the Administrative Conference Room when 2017 financial audit results will be discussed.