SIH faces long road to full recovery

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.


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7 Responses to SIH faces long road to full recovery

  1. Tinner May 5, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

    Can I get a “do not resuscitate” even though I have no major medical issues? Just wondering.

  2. Trouble May 6, 2016 at 4:33 am #

    I have to question weither or not the SIH building is not a huge part of the problems they are having.

  3. Karen Rotchstein May 6, 2016 at 6:11 am #

    How can I trust people with my life and those of my loved ones when they don’t know how to pay their bills or tell the truth? We need legal help to get medical help. Maybe the road to resolution won’t be a dead end. Lies don’t save lives.

  4. Susan May 6, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    I agree with Dr. Benzeevi! I also agreed with former CEO, Lee Barron when this same strategic plan (word for word) fell on the deaf ears of an unsupportive community and a resistant Board of Directors. As far as the update on recovering finances and services at last Thursday’s Board of director meeting: It’s not a myrical, they were only disrupted for a few months. Exact quote from former CEO: “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, which translates into higher costs”. Did someone read the minutes of a past board meeting?

    As I’ve said before, I’ve been in health care a long time, employed by SIH for many years. The only thing different now is the financial resources (IV) HCCA appears to have, keeping the hospital stable in it’s coma state. I’m sure Dr. Benzeevi is aware, every step on that ladder to climb out of that hole, a shovel of dirt will be thrown back in. Many of us here wish the former CEO had the financial support of HCCA and community support, to see her hard work and dedication to this hospital possibly come to light.

    Things could have been handled much different and professionally, not on a personal level. At SIH’s November 19th board meeting (quoted from Sierra Wave, Dec. 5th, 2015 article): Matt Kingsley and Jaque Hickman did exactly that and had the brilliant solution, “transfer the cost of management (CEO) to health care services”. Clearly, taking the communities attention off the real issues and lining up the scape goat for slaughter. After the “town meeting”, organized by Hickman, I would say mission accomplished, nothing personal though!

    I agree, lies don’t save lives. Do your homework and research on past hospital financials and past board of directors decisions. You will most likely come to the same conclusion I did. I work here, I don’t have any special access to information, other than what is available to the public. Just come in and ask for it.

  5. Susan May 7, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    I have been following TRMC, which is why I have risked my job here at SIH and speaking up. The board of directors here seem to be the perfect mark, for HCCA to take advantage of. HCCA is filtering/loaning money to finance SIH, it certainly makes no basic business sense. At some point this note will come due, what then? I’m trying to figure out HCCA motivation, PR, tax write off, or something more calculated? BTW, a few pennies off balancing my checkbook is an oversight, millions of dollars is something different.

    I just learned Dr. Benzeevi, in addition to HCCA, is president of MedFlow, an emergency room staff provider. I’m assuming, Dr. Benzeevi is the founder of both companies. This makes HCCA, interest a bit clearer. MedFlow is staffing SIH? I’m sure some kind of kickback or finders fee must be involved.

    I think the narcissistic SIH Board, may have mis-stepped. Maybe we should have a “town meeting”?

  6. Susan May 12, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    Good or bad, agree or disagree, we always used to know where we stood as SIH staff. We no longer have a leader/partner doing the right thing, for that matter, giving us the time of day.


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