Public input needed for KVHD priorities

By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun

The Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) will begin its new 2021 fiscal year on July 1 with a focus on specific goals it will attempt to accomplish. CEO Tim McGlew presented an initial list of eight goals to the Board of Directors at its meeting on June 3.

The Board suggested that the public add its own comments and ideas before the Board votes to finalize these priorities at next month’s meeting.

A paraphrased list of the eight draft goals are: (1) improve occupancy and financial viability of the Skilled Nursing Facility; (2) train at least 16 new Certified Nursing Assistants through KVHD’s in-house training program; (3) develop at least two new programs for the hospital with a focus on outpatient care such as home health, hospice, or behavioral health; (4) complete a strategic plan for the District within six months; (5) develop a seismic compliance remodel plan with a multi-phased approach and continue to search for additional funding for this purpose; (6) continue advocacy efforts to protect and enhance KVHD’s hospital and services; (7) lower employee-related expenses by reducing injuries and labor-associated costs; and, (8) expand utilization of the surgical department.

The public is encouraged to offer additions or changes to these priorities for the new fiscal year by sending an email message to DeborahHess@kvhd.org. This input will be considered by the Board in generating a working set of goals, and will be further discussed at a strategic planning session to be conducted this summer.

During the board meeting, CFO Chet Beedle reported a net loss of $753,471 during the month of April due to the effects of COVID-19 on KVHD operations.

This large loss was due to Governor Newsom’s mandate for hospitals to eliminate non-emergency services and elective surgical procedures, the need to purchase supplies and equipment to respond to and prepare for treatment of the virus, and the public canceling or delaying appointments or treatments due to social distancing concerns. Regular fixed costs remained and large COVID-19 expenses were added at the same time that patient volume and income plummeted.

KVHD was able to overcome this loss due to the procurement and management of a combination of temporary funding sources such as a Payroll Protection Program loan, federal stimulus payments, Medicare advance payments, and receipt of other governmental funds and reimbursements.

Operating income is now increasing since physical therapy services and outpatient surgical procedures have resumed. In addition, the hospital is conducting COVID-19 testing in partnership with Kern County, outpatient and telehealth appointments have increased, and the mobile clinic is operating.

Until the financial situation of KVHD stabilizes, CEO McGlew elected not to be considered for an annual wage increase by the Board during his performance evaluation in its closed session on June 3. The Board deferred the issue until December at the same time KVHD determines raises for other employees.

In a final matter on the agenda, the Board ratified an agreement with Tesla, Inc. to install a battery backup system on the hospital campus as part of the California Self-Generation Incentive Program at no cost to KVHD. Tesla will install 10 refrigerator-size batteries that will meet most electrical needs of the hospital during the day, then KVHD will recharge them at night when SCE electrical costs are much lower.

Tesla will be paid directly by the state as long as KVHD continues to use the system. This system provides energy efficiency and cost savings, and can provide the electrical needs of the hospital for four to eight hours should there be a power outage. Tesla is now presenting the agreement to the state for its approval.

The June 3 board meeting can be viewed through the KVHD website at kvhd.org on its Facebook videos. The next board meeting will be held on July 1 at 6:00 p.m. and can be attended either in person at the Hospital Administrative Conference Room, or online through Zoom using the information shown on the meeting agenda posted on the KVHD website two days prior to the meeting.