KVHD talks taxes

By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun

This past month has been quite eventful for the Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) as reported at its Board of Directors meeting on September 6. A ruling by the California Supreme Court may make the new hospital parcel tax measure much easier to pass in 2018, a communications blackout at the hospital over Labor Day closed the emergency room for a short time, and there was a break-in at the retail pharmacy.

In June, the Measure C parcel tax to fund a state-mandated hospital remodel was defeated at the polls with 52 percent of the vote rather than the required 66.67 percent. As was reported in the Kern Valley Sun last week, the California Supreme Court has just ruled that taxes proposed by a voter initiative process can pass with a simple majority vote because they are self-imposed, rather than requiring the two-thirds vote for taxes imposed by local governments. If June’s Measure C vote were to be held today, it would have passed if a group of voters had placed the initiative on the ballot rather than KVHD itself.

KVHD does plan to prepare another parcel tax measure for the June 2018 general election. It is now researching the best method for placing the measure on the ballot to take advantage of the simple majority threshold, such as by a citizen group through a signature-gathering initiative process.

Aside from the recent judicial ruling, KVHD has been working for months on revising the tax measure to address public concerns so that it can pass on its own merits. The Board approved an extended contract for the architect to modify the hospital designs to further reduce costs and to minimize new administrative areas. KVHD is planning to construct all phases of the remodel with funds from this one tax measure rather than proposing another tax at a later date to finish a last phase.

A lightning strike at Cook Peak on Labor Day Sunday cut off communications at the hospital for several hours. During this time, the Emergency Room was forced to close due to the lack of electronic records and loss of imaging capabilities. The IT department acted quickly to transfer computer lines to MediaCom, created a Google phone with its number published on the website, and had a satellite phone at ready which minimized the communication downtime.

The Mesa Clinical Pharmacy experienced a break-in which remains under investigation. Additional security cameras, motion sensor lighting, security doors and windows, and other measures are being taken to further secure the facility.

The Board approved purchase of a larger bus for transportation needs of Skilled Nursing Facility residents. The Hospital Foundation is holding its Fall Health Fair on October 5, and is offering $10 comprehensive health screening blood tests on September 23 and 25.

Due to low enrollment, Cerro Coso cancelled a CNA training program. KVHD will conduct the CNA classes in-house, and will hire the three students after successful completion of the course. KVHD is actively recruiting Family Practitioners, and should have a new full-time physician joining the District next year.

The next KVHD Board of Directors meeting will be held on October 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room.