February 4, 2018
‘It’s going to take a whole community:’ Petaluma’s Hempel leads fire healing effort

When Elece Hempel sought to transition from the high-powered tech world into the nonprofit realm, she had to convince Petaluma People Services Center’s leadership she was right for the job.


After two months of working for free, she was hired by the nonprofit, and she hasn’t looked back since. With creative thinking and tenacity, she’s grown the organization, which serves as a key Petaluma resource with programs in high demand after October’s ferocious fires.


“When I think about how we reacted to the fires, everyone at this agency accepted responsibility,” said Hempel, the current executive director who has worked in various capacities at PPSC since 2004. “We were one of the few large nonprofits that wasn’t impacted by the fires and we needed to step up.”


PPSC provides services for seniors, housing programs, adult and youth employment and training programs as well as counseling and food assistance. As disaster struck, PPSC’s Petaluma Bounty Farm helped distribute produce and other goods local agrarians weren’t able to sell at farmer’s markets, Hempel said.

To read more visit this link >>  

February 1, 2018
Supports hospital operator

EDITOR: It’s great to see some coverage finally about our local hospital and some of the challenges the community faces regarding access to health care in our city. There has been mention of a lack of hiring new doctors by St. Joseph in several of the recent articles. This is absolutely not true.


Just in the past year, a partial list of new doctors that have come to our community are: Neema Pourtaheri, orthopedics; Chris Walter, orthopedics; Naomi DeTablan, podiatry; Keri Weigle, general surgery; Steve Kmucha, ENT; Alexis Alexandridis, general surgery; Aldo Gamarra, general surgery.


This list just includes the surgical specialties. We have also added at least six new hosptialists in the past year as well.

To read more visit this link >>  

January 25, 2018
New cancer test at PVH

Petaluma Valley Hospital received a pricey new mammography machine that will help doctors better detect breast cancer in patients.


The Hologic 3D mammography machine, which St. Joseph Health purchased through the Petaluma Valley Hospital Foundation, cost $566,000 plus another $400,000 for construction and installation, according to Colleen Flynn, marketing operations manager for St. Joseph.


The cutting edge device takes a three-dimensional picture of the inside of a breast, allowing radiologists to accurately diagnose breast cancer and reducing the need for additional testing in some patients, according to Norman Shore, area imaging director for St. Joseph.

To read more visit this link >>  

January 18, 2018
Petaluma Hospital Deal on Life Support

A deal with a potential future operator of Petaluma Valley Hospital is quickly unraveling as healthcare officials appeared poised to reject the latest proposal from the top candidate.


Southern California-based Paladin Healthcare proposed an agreement to manage the publicly-owned hospital while a complicated medical records database is built. The Petaluma Health Care District board, which sought a lease agreement for the 80-bed hospital, said Tuesday the management agreement proposal puts too much financial risk on the district.


“The management agreement structure requires the district to assume significant financial risks, and to incur expenses that may not be in the best long-term interest of PVH,” Ramona Faith, CEO of the district, said in a statement after the board’s discussion. “Our concerns around these issues mean that we need to deliberate further on a number of points.”

To read more visit this link >>  

January 11, 2018
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Hospital issues

EDITOR: There have been many articles in your paper about Petaluma Valley Hospital and the tribulations involved in changing the management. I have not seen any information regarding a significant cause of part of the problem — the lease with St. Joseph. I doubt that much can be done at this time, as the lease was written two decades ago.


At that time, the Hospital District ran PVH. The District Board believed that the future of PVH would be stronger if PVH were affiliated with a larger institution. After consideration of several bids and with the advice of the chief hospital administrator, Daymon Doss, and a lawyer who was, supposedly, skilled in such transactions, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange who run the St. Joseph Health System were chosen to run the hospital with a 10 year agreement, renewable for an additional 10 years. A commercial-type of lease was drawn up and agreed to by all parties. But, that lease never contained a clause for how to manage the end of the lease, a termination agreement

To read more visit this link >>  

January 11, 2018
Your hospital is at risk

Petaluma Valley Hospital does a terrific job serving this community. Publicly owned by the Petaluma Health Care District, capably operated (temporarily) by St. Joseph Health following the expiration of a 20-year lease agreement, and staffed by a highly skilled team of doctors, nurses and support staff, Petaluma’s hospital gets consistently high marks by patients and rating agencies alike. By all accounts, PVH is a gem.


Unfortunately, this wonderful public institution is now at great risk. An opinion piece in last week’s Argus-Courier, co-authored by PHCD’s CEO Ramona Faith and Board President Elece Hempel, contained this startling news: the company that the district selected more than a year ago to manage the hospital under a long term lease agreement, Paladin Healthcare, is backing away from that potential commitment after waiting far too long to obtain digital patient medical records from St. Joseph.

To read more visit this link >>  

January 4, 2018
Petaluma Valley doctors complain about management

As St. Joseph Health plans its departure from Petaluma Valley Hospital after operating the facility for 20 years, the company has recently failed to invest in critical infrastructure, making it difficult to retain doctors, according to a group of physicians who practice at the city’s hospital.


Several PVH doctors have signed a letter criticizing St. Joseph, which leases the facility, for what they described as neglecting the hospital. They contend that St. Joseph pays PVH doctors below the rate of other hospitals.

To read more visit this link >>  

January 4, 2018
Resolutions for PVH in 2018

The end of every year is a time to reflect on the year that was, and think of hopes and wishes for the coming year. Looking back, it’s easy to see what makes Petaluma a tremendous city and community. Families and businesses find it a desirable place to be, and we witnessed our community at its best when we came together in the most productive and heartfelt way to aid our friends in the north and east who suffered extreme loss from the devastating fires.


We are very proud of how our hospital, Petaluma Valley, responded in the time of crisis. As we’ve gone back to business as usual here in Petaluma, the experience was an important reminder of how beneficial this hospital is to our community and our county. Just last month, PVH received an “A” grade in the Hospital Safety Score by the Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit. The Hospital Safety Score was developed by the nation’s leading experts on patient safety and validates PVH’s commitment to its patients and its community. It was the highest-scoring community hospital in Northern California.


The Petaluma Health Care District, your public agency working to ensure local access to health care and wellness services, has been striving to secure a new operator for PVH for the last two years. St. Joseph Health entered into a 20-year lease in 1997 and provided the community a larger health system, greater financial stability and expanded regional resources.

To read more visit this link >>  

December 21, 2017
Petaluma nurses form independent labor union

Nurses at Petaluma Valley Hospital last week voted to break from a national union and form their own grassroots bargaining unit to negotiate a contract with hospital operator St. Joseph Health. The move comes as St. Joseph is enmeshed in its own exit talks with the Petaluma Health Care District to leave the hospital as new operator Paladin Healthcare looks to take over the facility.


In voting that wrapped up Wednesday, Petaluma nurses overwhelmingly cast ballots in favor of leaving California Nurses Association and forming a local union to represent the 130 nurses at the hospital. Jim Goerlich, president of the new Petaluma Staff Nurse Partnership, said the change was in the works for months after the relationship with CNA soured.

To read more visit this link >>  

November 22, 2017
Petaluma Health Care District wins Healthiest Companies Award

At Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD), employees and families take advantage of no cost health care and mental health benefits, such as counseling services, health assessments and flu shots.


PHCD has an active Wellness Committee and this year its Employee Committee bought Fitbits for all interested employees while instituting step and fitness challenges using these devices.


Approximately 60% of staff members participate in office step challenges by signing up to do at least 50,000 steps/week for four weeks.

To read more visit this link >>  

November 15, 2017
These hospitals earned an 'A' for patient safety in Leapfrog's Fall 2017 ratings

The Leapfrog Group last week released its Fall 2017 Hospital Safety Grade ratings, awarding 832 hospitals an "A" rating for excellence in clinical and operational metrics tied to patient safety.


Of that list, 59 hospitals have scored an "A" in every year since the group starting publishing scores in 2012.


The rise of consumerism in healthcare has put fresh weight on public ratings programs from groups like Leapfrog, Healthgrades and U.S. News. More patients are conducting research online on the providers they choose for their care.

To read more visit this link >>  

October 26, 2017
Grateful to Petaluma

Letter to the Editor 





Our hearts go out to our fellow Sonoma County residents who have lost their homes or loved ones or have been displaced due to the devastating fires. No matter how prepared an individual or community may be, our bodies and souls feel the effects of crisis or disaster.


And yet, our hearts are also full of love and pride here at the Petaluma Health Care District. The extraordinary response of first responders, including courageous fire and police personnel, from this region and around the state and nation has kept our community safe. The physicians and staff of Petaluma Valley Hospital, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and other neighboring hospitals treated thousands of people, including patients transferred from Kaiser and Sutter Santa Rosa when they were forced to evacuate. It is inspiring to see everyone come together to meet the needs of our community when so many themselves lost their own homes.


And you, Petaluma, came together with a response that is truly awe-inspiring. You volunteered your time and opened your homes, your schools, your wallets and your hearts to our neighbors in their hour of need. We cannot thank you enough. It is truly an honor to work with and on behalf of such a committed and generous group of people.


As a community and District, we will play a critical role in the long-term healing and resiliency-building of our county. Now that our work turns from responding to a crisis to nurturing a recovery, we will be bringing together agencies and organizations to consider what we can do to further support the health of our neighbors to the north, as well as our own residents. Understanding how our greatest health priorities – mental and behavioral health, cardiovascular health, housing, education and health care access – may have shifted as a result of this disaster is critical. As your local health care district, we remain dedicated to working with our partners to improve the health and wellbeing of all our residents.


In the meantime, continue your wonderful work Petaluma. We will emerge as a stronger community and county.


We are #SonomaStrong and #PetalumaProud.


Ramona Faith CEO

Petaluma Health Care District

To read more visit this link >>  

October 24, 2017
Hundreds of Sonoma County doctors, medical professionals displaced by fires

From a single photo, Dr. Patricia May and her husband, Jeff May, saw the scarcely recognizable remains of their Fountaingrove home — the blackened carcass of a family car in the driveway, concrete rubble and stucco debris everywhere, and the narrow segment of wall that once offered bay-window views of their backyard from the kitchen and second-floor master bedroom.


What the couple hadn’t grasped until a week ago — a full 11 days after the Tubbs fire ripped through northern Santa Rosa — was the near annihilation of their neighborhood, destruction that no satellite photo or drone video could convey.

To read more visit this link >>  

October 19, 2017
California fires cause $1 billion in damages, burn 7,000 buildings

The wildfires that have devastated Northern California this month caused at least $1 billion in damage to insured property, officials said Thursday, as authorities increased the count of homes and other buildings destroyed to nearly 7,000.


Both numbers were expected to rise as crews continued assessing areas scorched by the blazes that killed 42 people, a total that makes it the deadliest series of fires in state history.


State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the preliminary dollar valuation of losses came from claims filed with the eight largest insurance companies in the affected areas and did not include uninsured property.

To read more visit this link >>  

October 19, 2017
Petaluma helps with long fire recovery

In favorable weather conditions this week, firefighters worked to contain monstrous wildfires that scorched more than 100,000 acres in Sonoma County, permanently altering the landscape and the lives of many in the community. While Petaluma escaped damage from the historic firestorm and the city continued to serve as a safe haven for evacuees, it became clear that the recovery effort would take months or longer and volunteers dug in for the long haul.


As flames subsided and evacuation orders were lifted, allowing residents of the hardest hit areas of Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley to return home, several temporary shelters in Petaluma closed and evacuees consolidated at the Lucchesi Park Community Center and Veteran’s Building. A shelter at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds was closing on Wednesday. Those who remained in evacuation centers had lost homes in the fires.

To read more visit this link >>  

October 2017
2017 Petaluma Health and Wellness Guide

Check out the 2017 Petaluma Health and Wellness Guide and two excellent pieces highlighting Petaluma Valley Hospital and the Petaluma Health Care District!

To read more visit this link >>  

September 7, 2017
Don’t take hospital for granted

Hospitals are critically important institutions, and the vital role played by the 80-bed Petaluma Valley Hospital is regularly illuminated by the lives that are saved there every week.


At a time when dramatic and often unpredictable changes in health care nationwide are causing some of these establishments to shutter — including one in Sebastopol that closed, reopened and is currently on life support — Petaluma residents should keep informed about what is happening at their hospital and ensure it continues its longstanding practice of providing outstanding healthcare services. It is, after all, your hospital, and the major changes afoot there warrant your attention

To read more visit this link >>  

September 5, 2017
Big ‘Bash’ a gala way to support all Petaluma-area schools

This year’s PEF BASH, supporting the mission of the Petaluma Educational Foundation, will be another legendary night of dancing, dining and auctions, but the fun is secondary to the cause — the continued mission of the Petaluma Educational Foundation to benefit all 38 kindergarten through 12th-grade public, not-for-profit and charter schools in the Petaluma area.


On Saturday, guests will be in awe as they enter the creatively transformed venue of the Petaluma Veteran’s Memorial Building to raise funds in support of more than 13,000 Petaluma students.

To read more visit this link >>  

August 28, 2017
Helping to save lives in workplace - Defibrillators reduce fatalities by 60 percent

The number one health crisis death in the workplace is by heart attack. But having an automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand can improve the chances for survival of a heart attack victim by about 70 percent.


So why don’t all workplaces have one?


Reasons business owners give including cost and the misplaced fear of being sued for misuse of the device, said Tami Bender of Petaluma Health Care District’s HeartSafe Community, which provides CPR and AED education and services.


“Businesses have a fear of liability for placing public access to an AED. However, they are covered under the Good Samaritan Law and the device is designed so that it cannot accidentally shock someone,” she said.

To read more visit this link >>  

August 28, 2017
Fast acting customers save golfer's life after heart attack on course

A North Bay golf outing over the weekend could have had deadly consequences had not the course’s customers and crew not stepped up to heroic tasks. At the Rooster Run Golf Course, the staff turned out to be anything by chicken. What could have been a tragedy here Saturday morning was prevented by tenacity and technology.


Last Saturday morning, a golfer at Petaluma's Rooster Run Golf Course collapsed during what appeared to be a heart attack. A chain of actions and events saved that golfer's life.


"People on the golf course who were with him and around him, immediately called 911, administered CPR, and then they called the clubhouse where they knew there was an AED that was recently put in there by the local Rotary Club about a year ago, and people at the club house, staff at the club house, took the AED, jumped in a gold cart and rushed it out to the scene," said Battalion Chief Jeff Schach of the Petaluma Fire Department.

To read more visit this link >>