With $5 million in the bank and its accounts paid, Plumas District Hospital is looking toward the future, which includes new facilities and perhaps a consolidation with the Indian Valley Health Care District.
Hospital CEO Dr. Jeff Kepple, along with Valerie Flanigan, president of the Plumas District Hospital board, and Guy McNett, her Indian Valley counterpart, shared some of those plans during an interview July 5.
All three had participated in the hospital’s annual strategic planning meeting held June 28 at the West End Theatre in Quincy. The meeting was a chance to look back and see if the goals from the last such gathering had been met, but mostly to look forward.
Plumas District Hospital has managed the Indian Valley Medical Clinic since 2016 and now that relationship might advance to another level.
“The goal is to come together and see if consolidation in some form is a good idea,” Kepple said. “We don’t see any significant obstacles, but we don’t know all of the risks and benefits.”
The Indian Valley Health Care District formed in 1953 and provided health care to the area for more than 50 years. In 2006, the district closed both its hospital and clinic. “We simply no longer had enough people in the Valley to support an acute care hospital, emergency room, long-term care and clinic,” wrote Guy McNett, in an overview of the district. The clinic became a satellite of Eastern Plumas Health Care in 2007, and then in 2016 began the relationship with Plumas District.
McNett released this statement: “The Indian Valley Health Care Board of Directors is focused on providing quality, dependable and efficient healthcare for our Valley Community. To this end, at a recent joint strategic planning session with Plumas District Hospital both boards approved the effort we are all making to explore the consolidation of our two Districts. The joint dialogue about the possibilities was very encouraging.”
His counterpart on the Plumas District board was equally enthusiastic. “It’s always been our dream,” Flanigan said. “It’s really exciting at this point to get to pull our neighbors into the fold.”
The districts will work with LAFCo, the Local Agency Formation Commission, as they investigate consolidation.
Aspen Street Architects presented a strategic master plan for the facilities in Quincy and Indian Valley, which could include a new hospital, and both skilled and assisted living facilities.
The architects carefully reviewed the existing structures and what their potential uses could be. They assessed the buildings for structural/seismic compliance, fire/safety, code compliance, accessibility, efficiency and electrical/plumbing.
When the only skilled nursing center closed in Quincy, it was hoped that a portion of the current hospital building could be used for that purpose at some point, but it doesn’t comply.
“It’s not feasible for skilled nursing in Quincy or Indian Valley,” Kepple said of existing structures.
But there is a scenario where a new skilled nursing facility could be built on hospital-owned land near its dental clinic, across Bucks Lake Road from the main hospital.
The architects also discussed a new hospital, which would be necessary to meet upcoming state seismic requirements. They presented two options: to build to the left of the existing building or to place it between the Quincy Family Medicine building and the existing hospital.
The old hospital building could be used for clinic expansion or administration. There are many options to consider.
“Our clinics need more room,” Kepple said, and added that it leads into a discussion about needs the community has for more specialty services such as oncology.
An assisted living facility is being eyed for Indian Valley, which would then provide the Quincy/Indian Valley areas with a full range of care.
As of July 5, Plumas District Hospital had $5.5 million cash in the bank and paid all of its bills.
Hospital CEO Dr. Jeff Kepple was ecstatic about the news and shared it with his board, along with the suggestion that it would be a good time to give employees a raise.
“Raises will improve morale, recruitment and retention, and will also decrease turnover,” he said. “These raises will make us more competitive with our neighboring hospitals. It will also help reduce the leap we need to take with California minimum wage requirements.”
Kepple proposes bringing employees “closer to the 100 percentile of the Rural Weighted Average” and planned to share that news with employees this week.
In the next six months, the district hopes to complete its master plan for facilities, be on its way to consolidation, and to make a final selection for its new electronic health records system.
The latter has been an ambitious undertaking with 23 employees from all hospital departments visiting sites and testing systems. A new system will be less cumbersome and difficult to use, collect better information and provide one chart for each patient.