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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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More changes coming to ValleyCare

Uploaded: Apr 22, 2014
Sitting down for the first time with new ValleyCare CEO Scott Gregerson why the board liked him become very clear.
Very intelligent; very high energy and clear vision for what the system needs to do to adapt and survive in the truly uncharted health care waters wrought by the Congressional Democrats and ObamaCare.
The future, beyond the next 12-18 months, is murky at best. The president's willingness to modify—arguably unconstitutionally and for little more than political leverage, the provisions of the law that his party passed and he signed—makes the future a guessing game at best.
That said, some realities need to be dealt with and changed.
ValleyCare has run at a about a $4 million deficit each year for the last five years—that must change. A related important point: the hospital system failed to meet a covenant for bond holders on an $86 million issue—that's a big deal-particularly considering that the system runs on about $300 million in revenue annually. Lenders demand that borrowers hit those numbers.
Board Chair John Sensiba updated the approximately 1,400 members of the system in an April 15 letter—interesting timing given that April 15 is the witching date for the IRS and John runs an accounting firm.
Sensiba's letter outlined a plan that will require budget reductions of $12 million (4 percent) to establish a balanced budget by June 30, 2015.
That required some additional cost cutting—the system laid off 24 people earlier this year, cut executive pay and has not replaced former CEO Marcy Feit as well as retiring executives Ken Jensen (the chief financial officer) Jessica Jordan (nursing chief). The latest cuts: Eliminating providing nurses to the Pleasanton school district (the district can afford them if trustees consider them important), cutting the innovative nurse training program with Chabot College (a long term loss) and closing the health clinic at Wal-Mart in Livermore (a cutting edge program that was ahead of its time and likely under-publicized). It provided convenient, cost-effective care that included prescriptions at modest cost—I know, my daughter utilized it.
The challenges facing ValleyCare as a stand-alone system are huge. In our discussion, Scott said that Medicare covers about 90 percent of the direct costs—50 percent of ValleyCare's business is in that government program.
Quick math: Every Medicare patient loses a dime requires every insurance-covered or privately-paid patient to cover $1.10. That's why I whined about the $6 diaper when my wife delivered our daughter at ValleyCare many years ago. There is a huge disconnect in health care between what providers charge and insurers/patients/the government actually pays.
Much more a problem: each MediCal (the state program) patient pays just 68 percent—a delta of 32 percent is very troublesome.
Because of the valley's demographics and the area's enviable payer-mix (lots of privately insured patients and relatively few poverty patients), the hospital system survives.
Long term—given the cost of medical equipment (million dollar scanners, etc.) –ValleyCare likely will need a partner with deep pockets. Finding the right partner will be a key challenge for Gregerson and the board moving forward.
In the short term, Gregerson, who took a pay cut as did his fellow executives and received no bump when he moved into the CEO role, is restructuring his executive team.
Cindy Noonan, the chief operating officer for the past few years, has resigned and will leave in May. Like Jordan, she has spent most of her career at ValleyCare (25 years).
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Apr 22, 2014 at 11:59 am

Why anyone focused on a real issue would spend time with Tim Hunt is beyond me. The blowhard can't even form coherent sentences anymore. His own voice just rolls around knocking into his skull all day, until he spews out some unedited slop into what is supposed to be an editorial.

"Every Medicare patient loses a dime requires every insurance-covered or privately-paid patient to cover $1.10."

Posted by Hugh , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Dear Bill, I commend you for slogging through the entire blog. I was unable to get past his incomprehensible first sentence.

The entire clown club of PW bloggers is a bit of an embarrassment. Obviously no one is minding the store.

Posted by Valley doc, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 7:12 am

Currently there is knowbody above a charge nurse with any actual healthcare expertise.
This not only a problem for the public, but against State & Fed law,
In the past the hospital has always overcome deficit issues, but currently we are stuck wuth a bunch of neighborhood do-gooders run amuck!
Many docs are now referring patients to Washington in Fremont.
Also, very disturbing, several of the board memebers are seeking to change the bylaws in order to extend their terms and start collecting compensation. This plan was first hatched when Sensiba fired the long time corp attorney for ValleyCare who was against all the above actions.
No worries, though, just like our country, sooner or later the right people will get back involved and clean it up.

Posted by john, a resident of another community,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 8:31 am

So is Vern Brown and Doreen Maples still there in top management spots?

Posted by Valley Doc, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:47 am

Brown is out on extended sick leave and will not likley return, Maples is here , but not in a true healthcare capacity.
It's quite shocking to all of us that the board wants to take on this kind of liability, If there turns out be be any "malice" or mistreatment to any patients, employees or former employees the board members can be personally liable, their contracts do not protect them against things like malice, or negligence etc.
I would like Tim Hunt to Ask Gregerson, about his background and what his qualifications are to run a healthcare org? his resume should be made public. The whole thing is very serious, and far from over.

Posted by DeWitt Yoseph, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 11:49 am

Finally, Hugh! A Pleasantonian with a low threshold of embarrassment, willing to raise the bar on these clowny blogs. Hooray. The floor is yours, sir. Give it your best shot -- Fire away!

Posted by Hugh, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 4:58 pm

No thanks, dewitt, I'm having too much fun observing the train wreck. Besides, snip-snip-snip, we know your magnanimous invitation -- on another's blog site, no less -- is insincere.

Now, shouldn't you be off helping PW editors on their courageous efforts to censor that which they don't like? You do that so well. Meanwhile, we'll continue to laugh at the efforts of Tim, Roz and yourself to squeeze out of that mini clown car of yours known as Lady Mediocrity.

Posted by DeWitt Yoseph, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm

The invitation to blog comes from the publication, and I think they mean it: Web Link Pleasanton has the same editor, right?

Besides, as we all know, ?It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.?

― Theodore Roosevelt

You don't want to be a cold and timid soul, now, do you. Or do you?

Posted by Healthcare Affiliate, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I am hopeful that Valleycare Hospital will succeed and continue to provide great patient care to our community. Scott, do your thing! We need to get progressive and some folks do not welcome the change but it is happening. The "Old School" way is not going to fly anymore. We have to change our business model. Everyone poo-poos Kaiser out here. Kaiser is safe, we are sitting ducks! Think about it.

Posted by Hugh, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 8:34 pm

To dewitt the brave one:

Ah, surprise-surprise: here we have the closeted Republican blogger quoting Teddy Roosevelt and appointing himself as spokesperson for the PW.

Of course the quote doesn't quite fit a cowardly blogger who censors others on account of their contributions upstaging the blogger's own mediocre offerings.

As for the repeated invite (though not on his own oft-censored blog): I critique my kids' performances on math and English homework without ever once wishing myself back to 7th and 9th grades. The question thus arises: why would anyone except a pathetic narcissist opt to write a blog which has, understandably, no more than a handful of readers (e.g., Dan, Cholo, Roz, spwtgpm) and another handful of made-up readers, and which, thereby, "compels" the blogger to click and click with his face marred by dust and sweat and blood into the evening's wee hours in order to convince himself and others that folks are reading a tedious blog which never ventures beyond the lines of pop political commentary?

Posted by DeWitt Yoseph, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Poor Hugh: I don't know about your mad bloggering skillz, but fiction needs to be plausible, and that was a pretty weak attempt. It's okay -- "cold and timid" suits some people pretty well. You bluff is called.

Posted by Hugh, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 23, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Okay, dewitt, "You bluff is called," too. Aside from your "grammar," I don't know what you mean by this.

You do know the difference between a question and an attempt at fiction, no? No matter. You certainly don't know much about matters of critique. Now, go back to bravely censoring those who consistently upstage you.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Apr 24, 2014 at 7:20 am

Good morning, comrade chameleon -- what color is your paranoiachute today? Your prose is as purple as ever.

You know, my daddy told me that you should listen to what a man says, but if you Really want to know what makes him tick, you watch what he actually does. You're in here All the time, under your many monikers, always with the same tired complaint. You LOVE it here, obviously -- just can't get enough of all that terrible mediocrity! Kind of a perverse pleasure, is it not?

Do you know that story, about the two old guys reminiscing about their past loves? First guy says: "it was THE Worst, uh, romantic encounter of my life!" Second guy: "Really, how bad was it?" First guy: "it was fanTAStic, every time!"

You're that first guy, comrade -- you just keep coming back. You're welcome.

Posted by Hugh, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2014 at 9:39 am

Ah, yes, more tired platitudes from Cap'n Courageous. Guess he forgot about the rule that prohibits using more than one moniker per thread. But the rules aren't for him, unless he's making them up and enforcing them himself. So he criticizes others for changing their name from thread to thread (which is quite within the Forum rules), while he changes his name on the same thread (which is very much against Forum rules), and does so on the very thread where he voices his cheesy complaints. Oh, and then he falls back on words from his Pappy about words and actions, all the while oblivious to how his own actions (multiple monikers on one thread) contradicts his "Lil Miss Manners" remonstrations.

The cloying, narcissistic need to receive approval from others must be a terrible thing when possessed by someone who should have been told (by his Pappy, perhaps) that he never was and never will be good enough to play shortstop for the A's. Alas, it's like that with writing, too.

As to this faux distinction between words and actions raised by Cushing Our Courageous Censor, my response is: Words ARE actions. Our words ACT. They convey meanings and intents that can have profound consequences, both intended and unintended, upon the world. Immanuel Kant lived an entire lifetime without ever leaving his village. We remember him for his words, the effects of which have been felt around the world for over two centuries. Now, since what I have just stated doesn't fall into formulaic Republican v. Democrat disagreement -- the stuff of pop political commentary -- I don't expect Cap'n Courageous will have much to say to this.

Posted by Tom Cushing , a resident of another community,
on Apr 24, 2014 at 10:12 am

I really don't need to say anything, your Purpleness. Your technicolor post speaks for itself. Wasn't it your hero who wrote about hanging oneself from his own rope? He was right; you are good at it.

Posted by Hugh, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

Like I predicted, once invited outside the lines of pop political commentary, Cap'n Courageous has little to say. What he does offer appears to be some sort of private language with references to purple and technicolor posts and hanging oneself from one's own rope. Meaning? Oh, the Courageous One doesn't feel any obligation to defend or elaborate? This would seem to put him somewhere between Tim Hunt and Lewis Carroll's Mad Red Queen whose words mean whatever she chooses them to mean.

Parting comment: When our good Censor's Pappy was imparting words of 'wisdom' to his son re. words and action, I wonder if to be consistent Pappy was paddling son's bottom at the same time?

Posted by on staff, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2014 at 11:57 am

Do your thing Scott? This guy doesn't know which floor his thing is on!
The truth of the matter is that Valley Care was once a great asset to the Tri-Valley. But that is really no longer the case. If we closed our doors today know one would care. When faced with financial issues you can shrink or grow. this team has chosen to shrink. Valley Care will soon be nothing more than a UNION RUN clinic, with basic services. That's what they want, that fits their skill set. The bigger hospitals have chosen to grow, we will all be fine with them.

Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of another community,
on Apr 25, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Yeah, Do your thing Scott and get rid of the CEO of the Medical Foundation who happens to talk a big talk and does nothing but get caught up in the minutia and hide behind her cronies. The current CEO of the Medical Foundation wouldn't know how to assimilate a business plan if her life depended on it. The current CEO does nothing but fight fires and or create them. Do not be fooled Mr. Gregerson. Don't let the serpent trick you into eating the apple.

Posted by John, a resident of Castlewood,
on May 7, 2014 at 9:05 am

Tim hunt comments on valley care clinic at Walmart

Question....why would Tim"s daughter need to patronize the Walmart clinic and use low cost prescriptions when she has a. Degree from one of our fine universities in California. Is'nt it time she get a real job and stop asking for handouts to finance her international travels.

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