Tuesday deadline looms for SIHD

By Deb Murphy

The last patient left Southern Inyo Hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility Wednesday and with it any ability of SIH to provide medical services.

Southern Inyo Hospital

Southern Inyo Hospital

The Rural Health Clinic is still operative, but without the affiliation with the hospital, its reimbursement rate for Medical and Medicare patients drops. Staff will gain entry through a back door to continue with administrative functions.

The new three-person Board was advised by a California Department of Public Health official the department would suspend or revoke the hospital’s license if no decision was made by January 5 (see release from Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce following this story).

Despite this grim reality discussed at Wednesday’s Board meeting, there is still hope in the form of Dr. Benny Benzeevi of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates. Following success with a private/public partnership with Tulare Local Healthcare District, Benzeevi outlined his plan to hopefully bring SIH back from the brink and invest HCCA funds in that possibility.

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of risk,” he told the Board, hospital and county staff and another standing-room-only meeting at the Lone Pine hospital.

Benzeevi was vague about what the agreement would cost the district, saying just that his company would participate in the eventual profits. The devil in those details will be contained in an agreement HCCA was slated to provide to Board members for discussion and decision at a meeting Saturday, Jan. 2.

HCCA and Benzeevi were brought into the fray by District 26 Assemblyman Devon Mathis following a phone call for help from Supervisor Matt Kingsley.

The miracle of Tulare included retention of all employees and a reorganization that focused on keeping patients healthy, what he described as “the new healthcare paradigm” required by the Affordable Care Act.

The Tulare hospital’s value increased by $12 million in one year and showed a profit within the first three months of HCCA management following years of losses up to $1 million a month.

At the end of a six-hour meeting, interrupted by an extended closed session to discuss possible litigation and personnel matters, Benzeevi went into more detail. “We (HCCA) run the hospital,” he said. “But the public entity holds the assets. It’s about doing it differently not a matter of doing it more efficiently or better.”

The first goal would be to bring the Skilled Nursing Facility back in operation and find a doctor to re-open the Emergency Room. “We have a team on standby now,” he said. “The Affordable Care Act makes it more beneficial to keep people healthy. We’ll see what services it takes to keep this community healthy and we’ll create those services.”

(This story was originally filed on Dec. 30)


From the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce

Good morning everyone,
As you know our Southern Inyo Healthcare District is in serious trouble.  The sad part is we do not even know how much trouble, as our new three member board has not had time to find out. The State of California has given us until this coming Tuesday night to decide if we should suspend our District license or have the State of California revoke the license. In other words we are being asked to make a decision that will impact our hospital, our clinic and our economy without knowing all the ramifications of any decision.
The Lone Pine Chamber is asking you to please send an email to Scott Vivona NOW, and ask him to give us an extension of time before we have to give him our decision as to whether we need to suspend the license or let the State revoke the license.
Below is a sample email, we hope you will send out today, pleading, sniveling begging, anything you think might work is acceptable but we need more time to study the situation before any decision is made.
 Dear Scott
The residents of the So. Inyo Healthcare District are asking you to please give our Healthcare District Board more time to consider what they need to do for our Healthcare district.
This board was brought on in an emergency situation where both the past full board and the CEO/CFO all resigned leaving us in a terrible mess.  These three newly appointed board members are extremely community minded and knowledgeable and still need time to look at the complete situation before they make a decision that could make the situation worse just because they did not have all the information they needed.
To ask this new board to make a decision without knowing all the information is asking for disaster. Please consider this request as we really have no place else to go for help.
Thank you.


1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
earl duran
earl duran
7 years ago

If I was employed there, I would be looking for a new job.