By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
The Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD) Board of Directors meeting on July 3 was the first one held in its new fiscal year. One of its primary action items was to decide whether CEO Tim McGlew’s performance during the past year warranted an increase in compensation. Presented for that discussion was an analysis of how KVHD compared to similar California hospitals and a list of its accomplishments over the past 12 months.
Director Ross Elliott compared how other hospitals compensated their CEOs so the KVHD board could determine if McGlew is being paid appropriately. He found that only 12 of the 449 hospitals in California are rural Critical Access Hospitals operated by a public entity like KVHD. He considered those as comparable hospitals for his report and obtained their CEO salaries online from Transparent California. McGlew’s compensation was found to be the third highest among those 12 CEOs.
However, according to Elliott’s report, KVHD is the second largest and second busiest hospital of this group in terms of patient volume and number of beds (including the skilled nursing facility). If compensation were to be based on operational size, the data suggest that McGlew’s salary might be low by ranking in the third position instead of second.
Members of the public, Hospital Auxiliary, and KVHD executive staff came to the podium to stress the strengths of McGlew’s leadership skills, experience, and commitment to the hospital district and community. Many stated that the success of the hospital was proof of his positive worth to KVHD.
After much discussion, the Board of Directors voted 4-1 to award McGlew the same four percent annual salary increase afforded to other KVHD employees, with Director Gene Parks voting in opposition.
Before making that decision, board members reviewed a list of accomplishments KVHD had achieved over the past fiscal year. This list was made available to the Kern Valley Sun and is summarized here with an additional discussion of some of its challenges.
An important accomplishment was completion of a Hospital Needs Assessment survey which identified the three most critical healthcare issues facing the community. KVHD prioritized its efforts on finding solutions for those needs first.
The need for better access to primary care services was addressed by hiring a family practitioner, Dr. Sarah Lopez, and by ordering a mobile health clinic to provide care to outlying areas and schools. The need for diabetes care was addressed by offering free diabetic cooking classes and developing a diabetic consulting service within KVHD.
Needed behavioral health services were enhanced by 1) the CSI Momentum community education project to combat drug addiction, 2) continuation of the Prime Grant program to treat behavioral and physical healthcare needs together, and, 3) better coordination of local mental health care services with Kern County.
Infrastucture improvements completed over the past year included installation of a high-speed broadband system that greatly improves KVHD telemedicine capabilities, an energy-efficient lighting retrofit with savings that will pay for equipment required by the state, and a remodel of the Mesa Clinical Pharmacy.
The most widely known failure at KVHD this fiscal year was the defeat of a parcel tax measure which would have funded the state-required seismic upgrades for the hospital. After months of searching for other options following the November election, KVHD discovered a federally funded FEMA grant program through the state of California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). If awarded, it would provide the funds needed to meet the most basic state seismic remodel requirements for the hospital.
The Kern County Board of Supervisors has already submitted KVHD’s application for $19.3 million to CalOES, and KVHD is currently awaiting a decision. If awarded, none of these funds would require repayment by the public. Seventy-five percent of the amount would be grant funds and twenty-five percent is a cash contribution that KVHD has already placed in a restricted account to be used for this purpose.
It does not appear that KVHD will meet its forecasted operating budget for the fiscal year ending June 30. CFO Chet Beedle reported that as of the end of May, KVHD experienced a net operating loss of $262,240, which might be reduced after revenues for the final month of June are added in.
Part of the reason for the year-end operating loss has been the consistently low occupancy at the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) throughout the past year, primarily due to the inability to recruit and retain nursing staff. KVHD is making a renewed effort to bring a CNA (certified nursing assistant) training program in-house. It has developed a marketing plan to bring in new residents, and is meeting regularly with SNF staff to gain their input.
It was discussed that the figures from operations alone do not fully represent the strong financial health of KVHD. Not included in those income figures are millions of dollars in additional funds that are received yearly from the government to guarantee provision of Medi-Cal services at KVHD. These funds are the source of the cash contribution KVHD will be making for the seismic upgrades.
Measurable goals and objectives for the next fiscal year from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020 are currently being reviewed by the Board of Directors. They are expected to be made available to the public at the next board meeting on Wednesday, August 7.
That meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the Hospital Administrative Conference Room and will be streamed live on the KVHD Facebook page accessed through its website at www.kvhd.org.