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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, April 28, 2014, 7:00 am

New CEO for Hospice by the Bay

Also: Grant will allow Sonoma County to expand mental crisis response

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    Dan Verel, Business Journal Staff ReporterKitty Whitaker was appointed Hospice by the Bay’s new CEO by the nonprofit’s board of directors earlier this month, succeeding former CEO Sandra Lew.

    Ms. Whitaker has been with Hospice by the Bay for the past 18 years, serving as chief operating officer, director of hospice services, team leader and as a hospice nurse.

    “I have such respect for this organization that I’m honored to help guide its future and growth,” Ms. Whitaker, RN, MS, said in a statement.  “I look forward to reaching out to develop partnerships with other agencies. Hospice by the Bay offers the best in end-of-life care. I want everyone to know about our services and have access to them when needed.”

    Ms. Whitaker held the COO position since 2008, where she had overall responsibility for administration and oversight of Hospice by the Bay’s clinical operations in Marin, San Francisco, Northern San Mateo and Sonoma counties and the city of Napa. Her experience in working with the Medicare accrediting agency, Community Health Accreditation Program, led to numerous successful re-accreditations for Hospice by the Bay, according to the nonprofit.

    A Corte Madera resident, Ms. Whitaker holds a master’s degree in nursing administration from UCSF. She is a member of Vistage International, a peer-to-peer membership organization for CEOs, business owners and executives of small- to mid-size businesses.

    Ms. Lew had been the CEO for Hospice by the Bay for  the last six years and had been with the nonprofit hospice for 12 years. She left to pursue other personal interests in her life, according to Hospice by the Bay.

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    Sonoma County was awarded a $3 million grant to expand services offered through its Crisis Assessment, Prevention and Education team and the Mobile Support Team, both of which were established to improve the county’s response to individuals contending with mental health crises.

    The grant comes from the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013, which is designed to increase capacity for client assistance and services in crisis intervention, crisis stabilization, crisis residential treatment, rehabilitative mental health services and mobile crisis support teams, according to announcement from the county.

    “The Mobile Support Team and the CAPE Team are the best examples of how a community can come together to meet a critical need,” said Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who led the development of the Mobile Support Team. “Both initiatives demonstrate how government can invest upstream in our children and preventative services so that the community thrives while avoiding downstream costs in the health and criminal justice systems.”

    The Mobile Support Team works with law enforcement in responding to situations in which individuals are experiencing a mental health or substance abuse-related crisis. Services are currently available in Santa Rosa and Windsor. The new funding will enable expansion to Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Cotati.

    The CAPE Team works with nine local high schools, Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University to provide mental health support, care and referral to youths in school settings. The new funding expands this service to additional schools in Windsor, Healdsburg and Sonoma.

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    Sonoma Valley Hospital was recognized as the 15th safest hospital by Consumer Reports, which rated more than 2,500 hospitals across the country.

    Hospitals were ranked on a combined performance in five patient safety measures, including mortality, readmission, scanning, infections and communication, with a score between 1 and 100. Sonoma Valley achieved an award of 73; the highest ranking hospital achieved a score of 78.

    “We are delighted to receive this news because we value patient safety very highly,” CEO Kelly Mather said. “In recent years, we have worked diligently to provide our patients with the highest quality care at every level, and this has included an organization-wide commitment we have made through our culture of safety initiative.

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    Healdsburg District Hospital has earned national accreditation as a primary stroke center, after undergoing rigorous on-site review by surveyors from the Joint Commission.

    Hospital officials said rapid intervention is crucial in the event of a stroke, and permanent neurological damage is more likely to occur the longer a stroke goes untreated.

    “Distance matters n heath care,” CEO Nancy Schmid said. “Getting immediate care when you are having a stroke is key to saving your life. Strokes are treatable when diagnosed and treated early.”

    The stroke certification team is led by Dr. Alan Bernstein and Kate Ingram, RN. The Kozel Stroke Institute was founded in 2008 with funding from Edward and Betty Kozel

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    Sutter Health’s Sacramento Sierra Region, which includes Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, was recognized as one of the nations’ top 15 health systems by Truven Health Analytics.  The study is part of the esteemed 100 Top Hospitals program at Truven Health Analytics.

    The study gathered data from more than 300 organizations and singled out 15 hospital systems that achieved superior clinical outcomes based on a composite score of eight measures of quality, patient perception of care, and efficiency

    Submit information for this column to staff writer Dan Verel, dverel@busjrnl.com.

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