By Deb Murphy
California Department of Public Health staff were probably waiting Tuesday afternoon for Southern Inyo Hospital’s Board to either suspend the hospital’s license or plead for more time. The Board did neither.
Instead, Richard Fedchenko, Jaque Hickman and Mark Lacey, with just seven days of board experience under their belts, sent a letter outlining the changes made by Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, rescinding the closures of the emergency room and Skilled Nursing Facility and asking that the department not suspend or revoke the license.
For the first time in a month, Southern Inyo residents can have more than just blind faith their local hospital will survive due to what can best be described the incredible hutzpah of its Board. That hutzpah was backed up by HCCA’s Dr. Benny Benzeevi ability to bring in SIH’s Chief Restructuring Officer Dr. Alan Germany earlier this week and begin the process of bringing the facility back to life.
“I have the feeling we’re in pretty good shape,” said Board President Fedchenko in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, just after the CDPH’s two Health Facility Evaluation nurses started their drive back to Sacramento. The two evaluators had spent the day touring SIH, “looking in all the cupboards and refrigerators,” Fedchenko said. “They asked a lot of questions, including how quickly we could have the ER staffed.”
The answer was a couple of days, at most. Benzeevi, in addition to his position with HCCA, is president of MedFlow, an emergency room staff provider. HCCA was responsible for turning the Tulare Regional Medical Center around last year. The SIH board signed a management agreement with the company at the end of a day-long meeting Saturday with the hope they could do the same in Southern Inyo.
Now the Board, the staff and the 15 former Skilled Nursing Facility residents have to wait for Public Health’s response.
“There are a lot of people depending on this,” Fedchenko said.