Deb Murphy

Southern Inyo Healthcare District isn’t claiming a win, but it has recorded a series of first downs since the state Department of Public Health suspended the hospital’s license January 13.

Southern Inyo Hospital

Southern Inyo Hospital

Chief Restructuring Officer Alan Germany provided an operational update at last Thursday’s SIH Board Meeting. Germany was brought in shortly after the board signed a management agreement with Healthcare Conglomerate Associates January 2.

Germany also reported on the outcome of recent meetings in Sacramento – an additional $750,000 revenue in the form of Intergovernmental Transfers. Half of that sum will be available in June with the balance in September, he said. The funding will continue for five years.

IGTs were one revenue source HCCA head Dr. Benny Benveezi had identified as an untapped resource at the January 2 meeting. The process involves SIH transferring funds to the state, then receiving those funds matched with federal funds in Medi-Cal re-payments.

The two faults found during the DPH site survey are being rectified, Germany said. One deficiency was the absence of back-up physicians. Dr. Parmod Kumar was appointed medical director January 12 with a 24/7 schedule spanning up to a week at a time. But, there was no physician to step in when Kumar was off duty.

According to Benveezi, the hospital now has a list of 20 physicians potentially available to provide their services. “Some of them have worked here before,” he said, explaining that a large pool of doctors is needed to ensure 24/7 staffing.

The other license-suspending deficiency was the “absence of the nursing and support staff for the Skilled Nursing Facility,” according to a press release following the suspension. The release also stated “HCCA had not been notified by the CDPH survey team in advance that they expected to see this team in place. That will be easily rectified for the next survey.”

Germany indicated SIH will be ready for the next DPH inspection the week of February 15. “We anticipate re-licensure,” he said.

Germany went on to outline work being done by HCCA staff on the hospital’s lab and imagery departments.

In addition, six of the 14 SNF residents transferred to Bishop Care Center have indicated they want to come back to Lone Pine and four have indicated they probably will.

The three board members, Chair Dick Fedchenko, Vice-Chair Jaque Hickman and Mark Lacey, appointed to fill the positions vacated by the previous board, have been joined by Travis Powell. The board still needs to fill the vacancy for District 5, which includes Olancha and points south and east.

“We are barely beginning the journey,” Benveezi told those attending the meetng. “By the hard work of this board, working as a team, the hospital has gone from abandonment and oblivion to a place with a future.”

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