‘This is a time when know­ing your core val­ues and core mis­sion is im­por­tant’

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

Sarah Kre­vans, pres­i­dent and CEO of Sut­ter Health, talks to Mod­ern Health­care Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor Matthew We­in­stock about how the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia sys­tem dealt with and still is deal­ing with the wildfires sweep­ing the state.

What Mod­ern Health­care: im­pact have the fires had on Sut­ter Health?

Sarah Kre­vans: We have a full ser­vice acute-care hos­pi­tal in Santa Rosa which was in the mid­dle of one of the first big fires. Mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, as they were leav­ing the sur­round­ing ar­eas, came into the hos­pi­tal be­cause hos­pi­tals are of­ten seen as a safe haven dur­ing dis­as­ters.

So when we were evac­u­at­ing the hos­pi­tal, we not only had to get our own pa­tients out and our staff, but we had some com­mu­nity mem­bers, in­clud­ing loved ones of pa­tients.

It was the early morn­ing hours when all of this started. Many staff lived in the evac­u­a­tion zones and knew that their own houses were at risk, but were there evac­u­at­ing pa­tients and be­ing sure that ev­ery­one got out safely.

We were able to lean on our sis­ter fa­cil­i­ties through­out the Sut­ter Health sys­tem and trans­fer pa­tients to No­vato Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal, which is a small hos­pi­tal also lo­cated in the North Bay. Their cen­sus lit­er­ally dou­bled in a cou­ple of hours.

We had a com­mand cen­ter opened in Sacra­mento, which was our sys­tem in­ci­dent com­mand cen­ter and we had sub-com­mand cen­ters in Santa Rosa, No­vato and Solano. We had a sep­a­rate one for our home­care agency, which had to evac­u­ate its head­quar­ters. And then we needed to call on our ter­tiary fa­cil­i­ties through­out the sys­tem.

MH: As all of this was hap­pen­ing, where were you? As chief ex­ec­u­tive, what was your role?

Kre­vans: Your role is not nec­es­sar­ily to be the in­ci­dent com­man­der for this kind of thing, it’s to en­sure that you have those things in place and en­sure that peo­ple are sup­ported and coached. I did not step in as the in­ci­dent com­man­der. I had some in­cred­i­bly tal­ented peo­ple who did that. And what I did was help them iden­tify what might be miss­ing.

So now, you’ve opened MH: Santa Rosa, right?

Kre­vans: Yes. We’ll be start­ing up elec­tive surgery again. We had a won­der­ful fam­ily house avail­able for our pa­tients’ fam­i­lies that un­for­tu­nately was de­stroyed in the fire (see photo be­low), so we will look at our longterm plans for re­plac­ing that. We have a cou­ple of med­i­cal of­fice build­ings that haven’t re­opened yet. And then deal­ing with the fact al­most 100 staff and physi­cians have lost their homes. Whole neigh­bor­hoods have been de­stroyed and may never come back in the same form.

As you think about MH: that, how does it change any of your plans strate­gi­cally for serv­ing th­ese com­mu­ni­ties?

Kre­vans: This is a time when know­ing your core val­ues and core mis­sion is im­por­tant; it re­ally mat­ters. For ex­am­ple, we paid all of our em­ploy­ees the en­tire time we were closed. For em­ploy­ees who didn’t have the abil­ity to rent a ho­tel room or they didn’t have money for food, our HR depart­ment gave out cash. We have started a dis­as­ter re­lief phil­an­thropic fund and we’ve had just an out­pour­ing of gen­eros­ity from our em­ploy­ees to help each other.

It’s not about the build­ings that make the health­care sys­tem, it’s about the peo­ple who work in them. You deal with the fi­nan­cial af­ter-ef­fects down the road. Strate­gi­cally, hav­ing had the fore­sight to re­ally think about how we could spe­cial­ize as a sys­tem and re­act as a sys­tem was very help­ful. We’ve also in­vested a tremen­dous amount in our elec­tronic health record and we were able to use that ca­pa­bil­ity to reach out to our pa­tients to un­der­stand what med­i­ca­tions they were on and ac­tu­ally to pri­or­i­tize which pa­tients needed to be seen and where we needed to have ca­pac­ity.

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