SVH board approves new X-ray funding
Sonoma Valley Hospital inched closer to obtaining a new X-ray room after the Sonoma Valley Health Care District board approved funding the necessary equipment during its meeting Thursday night.
The emergency upgrade came after a 26-year-old X-ray machine, one of two the hospital utilizes, broke down in March. The equipment was so antiquated, the vendor had gone out of business and there was only one technician in the North Bay the hospital could find who knew how to fix the machinery. The repair took a week because the technician was on vacation, meaning the hospital had to funnel all X-rays through a single room creating a scheduling bottleneck.
During a special meeting March 24, the hospital board first heard about the plan to purchase new equipment, at a rate of $20,100 a month for five years, but had to wait until the Finance Committee vetted the proposal before it could take action on the request.
"We agreed with management that the new machine was needed," said Dick Fogg, president of the Finance Committee, giving his approval of the expenditure.
Ultimately, the hospital will be spending less than $20,100 a month on the new equipment. Chief Financial Officer Rob Feldman explained that the cost to make the space compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act was $80,000 less than expected.
Additionally, the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation committed to raising funds for the project.
"We feel pretty confident they can raise $200,000," said Kelly Mather, chief executive officer of the hospital.
While the hospital won't have to begin payment on the new equipment for several months, until after the plans are approved by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), Fogg suggested that the hospital begin saving money for the project immediately. "We (the finance committee) ask that $20,000 a month be taken from the current operating budget ... and put into a slush fund to defray the cost of this project," he said.
The board was generally supportive of the new upgrades, which passed on a vote of 4-1. The one voice of opposition came from Boardmember Dave Chambers, who said he was uncomfortable committing the funds to a piece of machinery that was still operating.
"I'm troubled by this. We have a piece of equipment that works," he said, explaining that the equipment upgrade had been removed from the budget last year after the machine was deemed still functional. He later added, "I'm not against this piece of equipment, but it's working, our budget process is not."
Board Chair Peter Hohorst explained that for several years the hospital was embroiled in a heated plan to build a new facility to meet seismic requirements, which was ultimately solved when the hospital learned it could build a new building that will be completed in 2013 to house the emergency department and operating rooms.
Hohorst said that roughly $3.5 million was spent on planning costs for a new hospital that never happened, leading to years of deferred maintenance in the facility.
Boardmember Madolyn Agrimonti agreed, saying, "There must be a lifetime for equipment and from what I understand, we've passed that lifetime many years ago."
The new equipment could be installed within six months, assuming the plans move quickly through OSHPD.