By Debra Moore
It was the last meeting of the year for the Plumas District Hospital board of directors on Dec. 14, and the final one for long-time director Jon Kimmel — who began serving more than two decades ago. The meeting would conclude with accolades from his fellow board members, but first they made decisions regarding the skilled nursing facility, listened to a financial presentation, and set a new meeting schedule.
Plans for the skilled nursing facility will be submitted to the state this month, with groundwork slated to begin in March or April of 2023. Darren Beatty, the district’s chief operating officer who is leading the project, said that the initial work would include clearing trees from the property, and building an access road and pad, with construction slated to begin in 2024. The total project estimate is $39 million including soft costs and contingencies; construction costs are close to $32 million. The new facility will be located across Bucks Lake Road from the hospital.
The healthcare district has secured financing through the USDA, and during the Dec. 14 meeting, took steps to secure an additional $2 million. A checking account is being opened at Plumas Bank specifically for the skilled nursing facility. Chief Financial Officer Caleb Johnson said, “Now that money is starting to flow… we can track expenses related to the project.”
Johnson also presented the directors with a brief update on the district’s finances, which he said were “trending toward a $5 million loss on the year.” However he added that there are some factors that “will help mitigate what otherwise would be a dismal year,” including Medicare reimbursement.
Johnson also said that days cash on hand is decreasing, while accounts receivable days are increasing.
2023 board meeting dates
The board meetings will be held the last Thursday of every month at 3 p.m. in the board room. The earlier afternoon start makes it easier for staff to attend. This year the meetings were at 4 p.m., but they have varied over the years. Director Valerie Flanigan said that at one time the meetings were at 5 p.m. to make it more convenient for the public.
Chief Executive Officer JoDee Read said that the public makes an effort to attend when there is a matter of concern, and she advocated for the 3 p.m. start. Finance meetings would be held the Tuesday prior at noon.
CEO Read read accolades that patients submitted regarding their care at the hospital and the clinics.
As a highlight for the month, she noted that the parking lot project has been completed — staff and the public have dealt with every parking area being redone over the past several months.
Read said that the Plumas District is still working on an alternative birthing center. As of now, pre- and post-natal care are handled by local doctors, but not births.
While progress is being made on the skilled nursing facility, Beatty said that the plan for building a new hospital is about “16 steps behind” where it should be. He has spoken with Seneca Healthcare District administrators about their successful bond measure — something that Plumas District would hope to emulate. However, he does “anticipate some legislation to give us assistance or reprieve.” But that isn’t a given and the recommendation is to move forward. If nothing changes, “This building needs to be replaced by 2030,” he said.
Each meeting concludes with director remarks, and this meeting those were focused on thanking Jon Kimmel for his service.
Director Bill Wickman said that Kimmel will be missed, particularly when it comes to finances. “I have always appreciated your comments and input,” he said. Wickman also welcomed Sam Blesse, who will be succeeding Wickman and who was in the audience. Blesse will begin serving on the board in January.
Director Guy McNett thanked Kimmel for his service, and joked, “We know where you live.”
“What does one say?” Director Valerie Flanigan said, adding that she wasn’t going to cry. “There could not be a better mentor … I am very grateful,” she said.
Then it was his turn to say good-bye. Kimmel said, “One of the things I’m going to do is hand this off to Andrew (Ryback)” as he held up a stack of audits from 1999 to the present. Kimmel talked about where the district was when he came on the board and where it is now. He remembered Ken Shea, who was a board member at the time, telling him “as far as personnel goes, find the best and pay them to keep them. It’s important to get good people.” That’s what he’s tried to do.
“The reason I got involved with the hospital is because it’s super important to the community,” Kimmel said, and then he talked about his fellow board members. “Guy (McNett) goes to the finance meeting voluntarily… Bill (Wickman), nobody’s put more hours in as president than him… We’re blessed with Valerie (Flanigan) who has a heart of gold … and Andy (Ryback), whose expertise is what we need right now.”
He also noted the leadership of Darren Beatty and JoDee Read. “It’s a huge thing for this community to have this hospital here,” he said.