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Letters to the Editor, May 30 - June 1

Bulldog, not bully!

John A. Kelly is a bulldog lawyer. Over 18 years he has won battles for me that I could never have handled on my own. The Sonoma Valley Unified School District is fortunate that the people have chosen him to assist in solving the District’s pressing problems. It is distressing to see a frivolous lawsuit (“Hostile Work Environment Complaint Lobbed at Kelly,” May 12) from an overly sensitive employee distract from the serious issues facing our school system. It is time for Karla Conroy to withdraw her suit, retire immediately and let the business of the school district proceed.

Judy Theo Lehner

Sonoma

Support the hospital, not the salaries

EDITOR: I am a 43-year resident of Sonoma Valley. I worked at Sonoma Valley Hospital for five years from 1983 to 1988 and with Sutter Health for 18 years in administration, as well as directly with patients and their families. I strongly support Sonoma Valley Hospital. However, I do not support Measure E.

The current administrative salaries at Sonoma Valley Hospital are NOT “around midpoint” for hospitals of like size. Comparing SVH to Marin General Hospital with 235 beds, or to Healdsburg Hospital, 43 beds (a certified Critical Care Hospital / Stroke Center being paid at a much higher rate), is like comparing the I-T to the New York Times. Both under the same umbrella but completely different.

SVH is a rural 75-bed acute care hospital with an average daily patient census of 35 to 40 or less. This would be a major revenue challenge for any hospital, and especially one that pays top dollar to their administration. The CEO’s income exceeds that of the President of the United States and compares to that of much larger hospitals in industrial cities. Large bonuses are being given and should not be, until financial targets are met for the CEO and/or management, and only then with reduced bonus percentages. If consistency is even a consideration, why aren’t the nurses or service workers paid at the same scale as the larger hospitals? Board members have stated that SVH has “sought-after leaders” attempting to justify the current salaries as fiscally “prudent.” There is no shortage of experienced, competent health care management available to fill any position that might be vacated.

The SVH organizational structure is over extended, and that is an understatement. I have shared the SVH management structure and salary scale with leaders from other hospitals, to be met with choking laughter and disbelief. This small hospital does not demand “Chiefs” and, then in addition, “Directors” to oversee small departments and does not require a CEO and also a COO. One is sufficient. A “Chief of Revenue” is employed to build revenue streams, with an annual base salary of $212,160. We fly this person in from South Carolina, and provide accommodations for one week each month. How is this fiscally prudent? And where are the found revenue streams?

Keeping our emergency department open does not depend upon continually increasing taxes to continue with business as is. The SVH current debt of more than $45 million and monthly payroll of $3 million must be immediately rectified, and the community should be kept informed of all corrective actions. This Board needs to do its job examining closely the fiscal waste that exists, and with open eyes look to affiliation with a health care system that can financially support our hospital without depending on the taxpayers to keep it alive.

Jeannette Scharich

Sonoma

Already a stadium: Arnold Field

EDITOR: I’m concerned about the Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s master facilities plan for Sonoma Valley High School. The initial plan for the spending of a large portion of the $120 million in tax dollars authorized by last November’s successful bond measure has, in my opinion, some major flaws.

The District’s focus should be on providing excellence in educational facilities for all students including academics and trade skills. I, therefore, fail to understand why such a high priority (second on the list) of how to spend our November bond tax dollars at the high school has been given to a 2,500 seat stadium with bleachers, lights, PA system and concession stands, as opposed to many other enhancements and additions to educationally oriented facilities including science, technology and arts. Certainly athletics are important, but classrooms and facilities for learning should take the highest priority.

Rather than build another stadium, why not continue to use Arnold Field? Sure it has some warts such as inadequate bleachers, poor lights and the field could use some tender loving care, but all these issues and more can be fixed if the District would investigate a long-term use agreement with the County. With such an agreement the District could invest in improvements at Arnold that would require fewer tax dollars than constructing and maintaining a new facility. Arnold Field is centrally located, has ample parking and has a long rich history in the community as a venue for evening sports events.

Ron Schroth

Sonoma

Measure E: Through a scanner, darkly

EDITOR: I am a radiologist who works at Sonoma Valley Hospital. I have practiced medical imaging for 40 years. For the last 10 years, I have been chief of the department of radiology at Sonoma Valley Hospital. As a radiologist I provide imaging services for the hospital. If the ER physician needs a study to help in their evaluation of a patient, I am the person who guides and interprets that study and provides a report to the referring physician.

In the first three months of 2017 here are the number of exams ordered by the ER:

• 235 CT scans of the head. There are three main reasons for this exam. First, a patient arrives with sudden onset of weakness or altered mental status with a concern for a stroke.

There is a window of only three to six hours from onset of their symptoms to give proper medication. Second, is regarding accidents resulting in head trauma. In the older population commonly on aspirin or other blood thinners the trauma can be relatively minor and still cause a major bleed.

The CT scan decides between bandaging the wound and going home or being rushed to a neurosurgical center. The third category is onset of severe headache or dizziness. The exam in this scenario is often normal, but provides reassurance to a frightened patient.

• 33 CT scans of the spine. An unstable fracture that is not immobilized can lead to paraplegia.

• 163 CT scans of the abdomen. Patients present with pain. A finding such as appendicitis, bowel obstruction, acute gallbladder disease, or traumatic injury leads to emergency surgery.

A blocked kidney or inflammation of the pancreas or bowel may need admission to the hospital. On occasion the pain is from cancer, early detection will help provide early intervention.

• 479 chest X-rays. These people have enough pain or shortness of breath to rush to the ER. Do they have heart failure, pneumonia or other problem that needs rapid treatment?

• 85 ultrasound exams. The exams can range from evaluation of sudden difficulty in a pregnancy to a swollen leg, which could mean a life threatening blood clot.

• 220 bone X-rays. Does that fall off the jungle gym or the player helped off the field need a simple splint or an urgent call to an orthopedic surgeon? For the aging athlete like myself, is that pain just another strain or did you actually break something this time.

Fortunately many of these exams will be normal and the patient will return home. But they all need the rapid assessment provided by our community ER.

We have an excellent hospital, let’s keep it open.

James DeMartini

Sonoma