Sierra View Medical Center

Construction workers are busy Thursday at Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville. The New Cardiac Cath Lab is expected to open in February.

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of articles looking at what people can expect in 2017.

Sierra View Medical Center will continue its torrid pace in 2017 to expand and improve services for the community.

The hospital accomplished a lot during 2016, just as it did in 2015, and will open several new services this year, said hospital Chief Executive Officer Donna Hefner.

Two of the major initiatives on tap for 2017 are the opening of an urgent care unit to take pressure off of the hospital’s emergency department and the opening of a Catheterization Laboratory to conduct heart diagnostic and vascular procedures.

While the urgent care, which will be located in the Medical Office Building on Pearson Drive, will be opened in February, the Cath Lab will not open until at least March.

Pushing the new services to be offered is a goal of the hospital to improve care right here in Porterville so patients no longer have to go out of town.

In 2016, the hospital opened the University of Southern California-affiliated urology clinic, added a second 3-D mammography unit, launched an intensivist program in the ICU where board-certified doctors are on staff every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and launched a program in partnership with the state and federal government to “improve the quality of life,” said Hefner.

The program, called PRIME, focuses on several critical-care areas in the community, such as obesity, eating healthier food and care transitions where case management workers will track a patient even after they leave the hospital. The goal is to reduce the number of readmissions.

“We have a vision of we’re going to help you get home and care after you leave,” said Hefner, adding they will focus on those with high-risk illnesses such as heart failure or chronic disease. 

“We’ve already seen a decrease (in readmissions) from 16 percent to 10 percent,” she added proudly.

“We’re partnering to build that relationship,” with Family HealthCare Network said Hefner of a program where the hospital will provide specialists, such as cardiologists, who can see patients at the FHCN clinic in town.

Key to the hospital’s goals will be a new vision for the hospital, said the CEO, one that more reflects the “triple aim” of promoting access to health care, care coordination and improve the patient experience.

“If we can focus on those elements on where we want to go, we can reduce cost and improve quality and access,” she said. “We felt it was imperative to look at our vision — where we are going.”

The Urgent care is one way the hospital is working to improve access. The clinic will be open 4 p.m. until midnight on weekdays, then noon to midnight on weekends. The Urgent Care will be for patients with minor ailments that need the attention of a doctor or physician’s assistant, but not an emergency health issue.

Some highlights of 2016 include:

>Accreditation by the Joint Commission.

>Licensing of the outpatient physical therapy office on Thurman Street.

>Received a Smart Care Award for reducing C-section rates.

>Obtained Baby Friendly designation.

>Received award for infection prevention.

>Improved patient satisfaction scores in outpatient imaging services.

>Created new patient experience teams.

>Hired 40 new nurses.

>Supported launch of National University RN/BSN program at Porterville College.

>Implemented stroke and sepsis team alerts.

Hefner noted there are challenges ahead, especially with expected changes to the Affordable Care Act (Obamcare).

Hefner is pleased to be added to Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s legislative work group which will look at the act and how to make changes.

“We we want to see if they bring in competition and drive down costs,” she said of potential changes.

She is not sure what the changes will mean, although there is concern there will be some cuts to funding for Medicaid.

Recommended for you