By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
Just when the Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) needed it the most after experiencing very low November revenue, the Board of Directors was informed at its February 6 meeting that financial performance in December showed significant improvement due to increases in the use of its healthcare facilities.
December patient revenues increased 17 percent over the prior month with revenue improvements throughout every service category of inpatient, outpatient and clinic visits, skilled nursing center, and retail pharmacy. Even though the financial report for January is not yet completed, CEO Tim McGlew stated that outpatient clinic visits for January were the highest he has seen in the past 11 years, with 400 more visits than in December. The skilled nursing center is in the process of reviewing several new applicants for admission. “Things are really picking up,” he remarked, “and I want to commend the staff for what they are doing to help in this effort.”
Use of new community health services will add to the revenue totals when a mobile health care clinic becomes operational and behavioral healthcare services are expanded. KVHD is using its own surplus funds to purchase a mobile clinic to visit schools and other community locations to improve access to behavioral health and medical services. Due to the higher rates paid through the mobile van’s rural health clinic certification, these services will be a revenue generator and the cost of the van will be paid back quickly. The customized medical van is expected to be delivered this summer and to begin operations soon thereafter.
KVHD has been working on ways to add behavioral healthcare services to meet a pressing need as determined by the recently conducted needs assessment survey. KVHD has begun conversations with Clinica Sierra Vista on ways they can work together on this service expansion.
Work is ongoing to find ways to remodel the Emergency Room (ER) without property tax funds, and at the same time to find legislative relief from costs of the larger seismic remodel mandated by the state. State Assemblymember Devon Mathis will be visiting the hospital on March 1 to discuss seismic issues and to attend an open house for the remodeled retail pharmacy and its new drug disposal drop-off box. KVHD met with Cal Mortgage to discuss ways the upgrades could be done internally through debt restructuring or securing additional debt as needed.
KVHD executive staff are meeting with Liberty Ambulance to discuss their delays in getting patients transported out of the ER in a timely manner. The ambulance service is experiencing staffing issues and is currently recruiting and training additional paramedic personnel. KVHD is holding quarterly First Responder meetings with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office to work together on security issues.
Scott Nave, KVHD Legal Counsel, presented information to the Board of Directors about State Assembly Bill 2329 which changes hospital district board member compensation rules as of January 1. Prior state law authorized payments to board members of no more than $100 per meeting for attending up to five board meetings per month. AB 2329 now allows payment for attending up to six meetings per month and increases the $100 compensation by up to 5 percent annually in recognition of the work directors must do for effective operation of the district.
KVHD board members typically attend two to four meetings per month depending on their committee assignments and if special board meetings are necessary to deal with urgent issues. Board members expressed their desire to research this matter further before taking action on adopting any of these legislative changes. They will be able to adopt all, none, or some of the changes allowed.
Legal Counsel will draw up a sample ordinance for the March 6 meeting which will state the new compensation terms so the Board can consider whether to proceed with the enactment process. If the Board votes to proceed with the changes, the ordinance would be published in the local newspaper and a public hearing would be held before a final vote could be taken on April 3 to adopt the resolution.
The Hospital Foundation reported that the Jeanette Rogers-Erickson Heart Walk will be held on February 23, and the Hospital Auxiliary is sponsoring three teams at the event. Board Chair John Blythe announced the passing of long-time Foundation member Ron Bolyard and recognized his many years of service to KVHD and the Kern River Valley.
The next monthly KVHD Board of Directors meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 6 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room. The public is encouraged to attend and participate, or to view the videotape of the meeting on kvhd.org or on its Facebook page.