Cardiac Cath lab addressed
Challengers, incumbents agree lab can be revisited
It’s not a matter of if, but when, will a cardiac catheterization lab be available in Porterville — that is what Dr. Jasvir Sidhu said when asked if Sierra View District Hospital should revisit developing a cardiac catheterization lab.
The District’s incumbents, Martha A. Flores, L. Brent Gill and Richard Hatfield, and challengers Mark Fazzone, Dr. Gaurang Pandya, Dr. Rakesh Jindal and Dr. Jasvir Sidhu — are all vying for one of three available Sierra View Local Health Care District seats during the Nov. 6 Tulare County General Election.
“In many states throughout the country, this facility is being provided at similar-size hospitals and communities except in California at this time. This is a very much needed service.”
It was a sentiment other candidates agreed with.
“A Cardiac Cath Lab is long overdue for the community,” Jindal said. “Rejecting the Cath Lab was one of the worst decisions made by the current Hospital Board. Porterville is fortunate to have three board certified intervention cardiologists, who can provide services to heart patients locally.”
In September of 2010, a lengthy discussion about the Cath Lab followed after Gill questioned its viability, saying the Board needed to be absolute certain that money invested would not be at a loss. Gill pointed out changes in Medical and Medicare reimbursement, as well as changes in Washington.
“It’s best to be certain we are not making a mistake. I think we should get an outside source to look at the figures,” Gill said during that meeting.
The discussion led to a motion by Gill to have a feasibility report completed. Only Board Member Dr. Ashok Behl voted against it.
During a December 2010 Board meeting, a report was given that the hospital was dedicated to build, at an estimated cost of $4.5 to $5.5 million, but construction was delayed due to state licensing issues. The SVDH Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the hospital and a separate entity, had raised $188,000 in funds designated for the cardiac catheterization laboratory through two gala’s in 2006 and 2007. When the SVDH Board voted not to move forward with the project, the Foundation Board offered the donors three choices — a reimbursement of the monetary gift, allowing the Foundation to retain the funds in a designated account toward the future development of a cardiac-related project, or to remove the catheter lab designation associated with the funds, allowing them to be used for upcoming projects, chosen by the majority of the donors.
“The Board displayed poor judgment regarding the Cath lab. However, it was one more in a series of poor decisions — for example, its efforts to stop eye surgeries, which would have left seniors without local options, the purchase of the Cobblestone property which lacks required parking for medical offices, and the purchase of the Westwood property which is run down,” Pandya said. “Also, back in 1993, the Board’s denial of my request for endovascular surgical services, for which I was willing to help buy the equipment, and in which now Kaweah Delta has invested, 20 years later.”
Fazzone said a cardiac catheterization lab will save lives.
“We have an aging population that needs and can support these services. I do not believe the present board pealed back the onion far enough before deciding against providing this service for our community,” Fazzone said. “I will support taking another strong look at this opportunity and bring it back to the table as a viable offering at our hospital.”
The hospital’s incumbents all agreed that the Cath lab could be revisited.
“Anticipated changes in the requirements for open heart surgery capability on the same premises may make a Cath Lab possible at Sierra View District Hospital,” Hatfield said.
Flores added that a public board should never be reluctant to review decisions and consider new thoughts or information.
“The Cath Lab appeared to be a financial drain on the hospital, thus fiscal responsibility took precedence,” Gill said. “Every decision is based upon available information, yet should always be open to revisiting, especially if new or different information becomes available.”