By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
Dialysis services will soon be provided in the Kern River Valley, and Kaiser members will be able to utilize both the local Skilled Nursing Facility for short-term inpatient care and the Rural Health Clinic for outpatient doctor visits. These impending contracts were announced on April 4 at the Kern River Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) Board of Directors meeting. In addition, mammogram equipment was approved by the board for funding in the Fiscal Year 2019 capital budget.
Sanderling Renal Services recently established dialysis services in Tehachapi and now has an adequate number of trained staff to also serve the Kern River Valley (KRV). The company succeeds in serving the needs of small and rural communities due to its specially designed systems, wide network of nephrologists, and use of telemedicine. Sanderling will be offering in-home dialysis in the KRV and will also provide dialysis to hospital inpatients and residents of the Skilled Nursing Facility. The public is invited to attend a Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, April 22 from 3:00-4:00 p.m. at the Kern Valley Hospital Administrative Conference Room to learn more about this new service.
It was reported at last month’s board meeting that Kaiser Permanente is contracting for space in the Rural Health Clinic to enable some of their members to have their outpatient doctor visits in the KRV. Just this past month, Kaiser indicated it will make an addition to its contract with KVHD to provide short-term inpatient beds for their members at the Skilled Nursing Facility. It is hoped that laboratory and imaging services will be added to the contract at a later date for the convenience of the 1500-1600 Kaiser members who live in the KRV.
Another service frequently requested locally is mammography, and the Board of Directors has taken the first step to bring this imaging service to the KRV. The board approved $414,153 in the Fiscal Year 2019 capital budget to purchase mammography equipment. It was placed at a Level 3 priority, with $136,000 worth of equipment items ahead of it in urgency. The equipment, staffing, space, and regulatory approvals will all need to be put in place before mammography services can be provided.
In financial news, occupancy of the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) was down to 56 beds in February, compared to 71 occupied at this time last year. Revenue this February at the SNF was $400,000 under budget. The low occupancy was caused by several residents passing, lack of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), and a freeze in admissions to suppress transmission of viruses. This spring will be a healthier season, and several newly graduated CNAs are expected to join the staff next month to assist new residents.
The overall financial health of KVHD is excellent for the first eight months of Fiscal Year 2018 with a net profit of nearly $1 million. KVHD shows a profit margin of about 5 percent, which is double the state average of 2.5 percent.
KVHD will be celebrating the Hospital Auxiliary’s 50th anniversary at a lunch given in its honor on April 11 at the Hospital Cafeteria. The Auxiliary, in turn, will be thanking the community for its 50-year support of the Thrift Store by inviting the public to a party at the store on Saturday, May 5. There will be gifts, games, prizes and a radio broadcast from the store location.
The next KVHD Board of Directors meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 2 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room. The public is encouraged to attend.