By Deb Murphy
The prognosis for Southern Inyo Hospital is hopeful. But, like any patient who’s been resuscitated, the recuperation period is still ahead.
Just two months since the doors were re-opened, community members got an update on the recovering finances and services at last Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting.
“This is an amazing accomplishment,” said Dr. Benny Benzeevi of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, the management company responsible for performing CPR on SIH. “We were in a hole. We’ve stopped digging but now we have to climb out.”
Benzeevi began the hospital’s strategic plan discussion that will move SIH to its goal of sustainability. SIH’s long-term issues aren’t unique. According to Benzeevi and other area hospital administrators, the healthcare model is changing and the only way to survive is to go with the flow, toward a healthcare delivery system that rewards institutions for keeping patients healthy and out of those hospital beds.
The real issue is that the reimbursement model is still mired in the past. Hospitals are converting to the new care delivery model with more complex reporting and recording protocols, translating into more staff time which translates into higher costs.
One solution is that strategic plan process: what services do Southern Inyo residents need to stay healthy and how can SIH best provide those services? Basically, the community needs to maintain the same level of involvement that brought SIH back from oblivion to guarantee it stays alive.
With the deadline to meet hospital seismic requirements only 14 years in the future, the planning process needs to start now, Benzeevi said. Fifth District Supervisor Matt Kingsley intends to tackle that issue, hopefully, with state legislation to provide grant funding to hospitals struggling to meet the deadline.
The news wasn’t all grim. Chief Restructuring Officer Allan Germany reported that lab, rehab and radiology services were close to the 2014-15 fiscal year numbers. And, the hospital is pursuing grant funds for staff training on the electronic health records and the increased levels of coding.
In other news, Board member Mark Lacey reported the district needs to go from zoned districts to districts-at-large. The board is still one director short after starting late last year with only three of the five seats filled.
“It’s hard to fill all the districts,” Lacey said. While there was a lot of interest from District 3, Lone Pine proper, the southeastern district seat is still unfilled. “It’s important to have a full board,” he said. “We want to hear the pros and cons from the constituents.”
Residents will have a chance to weigh in on the district change at the Board’s next meeting.