Santa Paula Hospital: Dramatic rise in surgeries, services beat projections

December 03, 2008
Santa Paula News

Santa Paula Hospital has surpassed projections, expanded services and experienced a dramatic increase in surgeries, those attending the November Good Morning Santa Paula learned.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesSanta Paula Hospital has surpassed projections, expanded services and experienced a dramatic increase in surgeries, those attending the November Good Morning Santa Paula learned.E.J. Harrison & Sons/Santa Clara Valley Disposal hosted the Chamber of Commerce sponsored event held at Logsdon’s at the Airport.It was just a few years ago said Chamber President John Blanchard that “Santa Paula got lucky again when the Ventura County Medical Center saved our hospital thanks to the work of City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz” and the then-City Council.Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, only one of three in the state built entirely with donations, had closed amid bankruptcy in December 2003.The campus was purchased by the Ventura County Medical Center, which reopened “The Hospital on the Hill” in July 2006.Hospital COO Christina Thielst “Is an amazing woman,” with a young family who “is a great asset to Santa Paula…she threw herself into the community and we’re lucky to have her.”The hospital is midway its third year of operations, “An important point in the hospital’s growth,” noted Thielst, per VCMC’s three-year projection on reopening the facility.“At this point we are above projections prior to the opening,” and even beyond those given to County Supervisors during regular updates.Thielst said SPH is “On a good path in its growth and we hope at the end of the third year we’ll be at the break-even point…we’re still in the pattern of being a start-up facility where typically there’s a lag time before you start making money.”The hospital’s Emergency Room – the only one for the river valley’s approximate 50,000 residents – receives about 1,000 patient visits a month and OB volume is steadily increasing with the last three months each seeing a whopping 40-plus deliveries with new mothers drawn from throughout Ventura County.
In patient hospital days increased by 35 percent and continue to rise and Thielst said the number of surgeries “Continues to increase and our projection over the next several months is going to be dramatic, we just added two new surgeons,” including one who specializes in orthopedic/sports medicine, “who are dedicated to Santa Paula Hospital.”Physical therapy, lab testing, radiology, respiratory therapy and other services are “also growing dramatically as well as the number of people who are choosing Santa Paula Hospital,” for such care.In fact, the hospital’s physical therapy unit is so popular that Thielst said the hospital is experiencing a shortage of therapists: “There’s a nursing shortage also,” but now therapists in all fields are becoming so hard to find that “Sometimes we have to balance the demand with finding someone else to meet that demand…”The hospital has also implemented a digital radiology system that “Dramatically increases the efficiency of dealing” with film, “a huge improvement in our ability to improve healthcare and reduce costs.”VCMC enjoys a partnership with UCLA’s Family Medicine Residency Program, which is now also utilized at Santa Paula Hospital, which is “Moving more and more towards a teaching facility…”The recent Adult Health & Wellness Fair was very well attended and Thielst noted that many had positive comments about the event as well as the hospital itself.The county has been proactive in working with the uninsured and has been working with large employers to help identify programs workers might be able to participate in as well as connected workers with local physicians.“If people are able to have a medical home and a doctor in the community,” they are less likely to make unnecessary visits to the Emergency Room.Of the approximately 180 full-time equivalent employees Thielst said about half live in the river valley and that nine more staffers will soon be joining the facility.Santa Paula Hospital accepts all private insurance except Kaiser although it will accept the latter for emergency treatment only.

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