Dr. Bindusagar Reddy read these comments at an open session meeting of the Sierra View Local Healthcare District’s Board of Directors, and provided the Valley Voice with a copy of these comments for publication.
Good afternoon all,
As you all know last board meeting there was an unprecedented Anonymous public comment by Sierra View Medical Center employees using the public platform to express personal feelings towards a board member that happens to be me. It was handed over at the last minute inexplicably, to the board though it was received 3 weeks prior to the board meeting.
I do not know the motives behind those comments bypassing the standard procedures. It is troubling to see a complete disregard to the standard process.
I am obliged to respond to this comment, and this is my official response.
To better understand the whole situation that might have led to the public comment, I would like to give the history of cardiac catheterization laboratory and myself.
I completed my post graduate training that includes 7 years of specialization final year of interventional cardiology in New York City 1991, where I first met CEO of Sierra View Medical Center David Wanger and CEO of San Joaquin community Hospital, presently the Adventist health who recruited me over to Porterville with goal of bringing cardiac services including cardiac Cath and PCI.
I moved to Porterville in October 1992 and started my individual solo practice, and I am happy to be here 30 years later serving this loving community and Sierra View Medical Center.
I have been passionate in taking care of my patients providing the best quality of care, find the best hospitals and best cardiac surgeons to take care of my patients. I drove to Bakersfield every week did my cardiac procedures at San Joaquin community Hospital and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and subsequently was a founding member of Bakersfield heart hospital in 1999, where I served on Board of directors, which lately has struggled due to Traveling RN costs is being taken over by another entity.
I continue to strive to provide the best quality medical care and wanted to bring it to Porterville and several attempts were made to open a cardiac Cath lab over the subsequent years including 2 fundraisers at my home for cardiac Cath Lab in early 2000’s nearly 20 years ago. The board of directors did not approve the cardiac Cath Lab for several years and finally agreed to proceed with the cardiac Cath Lab project and was opened in June 2017. My special Thanks to Dr Behl, Dr. Kent Sorrels and Dr. Pandya, who were also instrumental in getting it done.
I am proud of the cardiac Cath lab accomplishments, within 3 years after opening we received permission from the state of CA to do PCI/Stenting and treat acute heart attacks without surgical standby.
We are one of the handful hospitals in California who are allowed to perform primary angioplasty stent placement without surgical standby and take care of patients with heart attack and sudden death and saved numerous lives including cardiac arrest who required CPR on half a dozen occasions most recently in June 2nd week of this year a 50 year old young man survived heart attack after CPR successful stent and was discharged home alive in 3 days. Earlier in 2022 a 40-year-old young man survived similar episode and now back to work. Finally, my dream had come true, of bringing the latest technology and advances to rural communities like this and saving lives.
It took several years of perseverance and hard work by administration and Board of Directors, especially dynamic leadership of our CEO Donna Hefner who tirelessly worked hard to make this happen.
The biggest challenge here has been trying to find personnel staffing of the highest quality for cardiac catheterization laboratory.
Being a small community, it is difficult to attract talent, we ended up training our own staff and achieving these tasks with a lot of difficulties.
We had put together a good team of technologists and nurses and achieved remarkably high patient satisfaction and highest quality patient outcomes. I am proud to say that from July 7, 2020, until now we performed over 250 percutaneous coronary interventions with 0.5% mortality, including several patients who came with heart attack and sudden death who went home alive. National mortality rates are anywhere between 2 to 3% and we achieved a 0.5% mortality despite all the drawbacks.
I am the only Interventional cardiologist in Porterville with a current ABIM board certification in Interventional cardiology. I also want to remind the board and community that state of California granted permission to do PCI procedure without onsite cardiac surgery program, only because of presence of experienced board-certified interventional cardiologist overseeing the quality of care which is required by the California state guidelines to have a permit to perform these procedures.
I have been given the opportunity to serve as Medical Director of Cardiac cath lab and I also happened to perform 75% of total cardiac Procedures and PCI procedures and device implantation that are performed annually in this cardiac facility. I performed more than 95% of my procedures in this hospital, only 5% elsewhere complex cases in Visalia and occasionally in Bakersfield heart hospital.
I have a unique role of serving cardiac Cath laboratory director and perform most of the procedures as well as serving on the board of the hospital, and I set high standards of patient care, patient satisfaction, patient experience, with the best clinical outcomes and operational excellence.
I take full responsibility for quality of care and performance of the facility, and I was totally stunned and shocked that the first ever employee comment had come through Board of Directors public comment forum or other means in 30 plus years of service in 5 different hospitals that I performed cardiac procedures.
I would like to take a big picture here and try to understand the circumstances.
In 31 years of my medical practice working at 5 different hospitals and serving as board member of Bakersfield heart hospital there had never been a written complaint in any form against me. The employees bypassed standard reporting and directly sent to the Board for public comments.
I did some reflection. I do realize that I wear 3 hats as a physician, cardiac Cath Lab director and a board member. I understand that when you expect the best and demand efficiency and competency, I could be interpreted as using my position as a board member rather than as a physician who is expecting the best for patient and efficient operation, which has been a constant problem.
It is my responsibility to make sure that they do not feel intimidated by my constant high expectations of quality performance and efficiency.
Public hospitals such as Sierra View and Kaweah health, in the news with a difficult financial environment and everyone is aware that there is a consulting group Altius that was helping to improve operational efficiency by eliminating some redundant middle management and directors’ positions, there was fear among employees as to workforce reduction.
I do admit that some of the employees would ask me about what is going on with the jobs, the consulting group is looking to improve efficiency. I never discussed specific employees or specific jobs.
I strongly feel that for this institution to succeed, we must improve the outpatient surgical services, imaging services, cardiac services provide highest quality of care with excellent operational efforts that will ultimately lead to financial well-being of this institution which I passionately care about.
I would like to take this public comment by employees in a positive way to improve the performance of myself and the institution and set an example.
I expect the Board of Directors, CEO and senior management to change the culture of the organization to be one of patient centric focus on high-quality patient care and have a harmonious relationship among themselves and physicians to solve problems amicably, otherwise we will have difficulty recruiting staff and physicians and retain them.
I am still positive and expect a positive change. At the end of the day, we should not forget that patients do have a choice to go where they want to especially outpatient services and physicians also have a choice to take the patient to the best facility, where they can get the best medical care and be treated with respect by that institution.
I will lead by example and make the following changes for myself going forward.
I will avoid any comments about governance and will never engage in any type of discussion of governance with employees of the institution apart from upper management. I would also discourage employees from asking the Board of Directors any questions regarding management.
I am expecting Senior management to change the culture of the organization to be patient centric and be flexible and accommodating patient’s needs and physicians’ needs. Remove rigid policies and adapt flexibility.
I would like physicians to come to the hospital to deliver the best medical care, not to be concerned about being written up every minor interaction with nursing staff. At the same time, I expect physicians to become champions of educating the staff constantly with a common goal to improve performance.
The nursing staff and ancillary staff showed work with physicians harmoniously learn from each other with one goal of improving quality of care and efficiently improve the overall performance.
I am very aware of my position as the board member when taking care of patients daily and interacting with hospital staff. I will be extra careful in how I conduct myself and how I am perceived by the employees and will go the extra mile to avoid any such appearance of intimidation in the future.
I am highly motivated to work even harder to improve the performance of the hospital and elevate the patient’s experience further by encouraging employees to work harder with a higher goal in mind.
Thank you for listening to my response to the comments.
Bindusagar Reddy, MD FACC
Chairman, Board of Directors
Sierra View Medical Center