Working to stabilize NIHD, DelRossi asks for support, patience
Interim CEO shares news of improved state reimbursements, cautions staff to remember to always ask ‘how can we make it better’
Northern Inyo Healthcare’s Interim Chief Executive Officer Stephen DelRossi addresses the topics of bankruptcy and the future of NIHD in two recent memos to the District staff. DelRossi sent the memos to clarify what bankruptcy could mean for the 77-year-old healthcare district, one of the first in the state.
“In summary, we will not close, but our services will be closely examined, as they are now,” he wrote to the staff. “We are working to stabilize District’s finances, but this will take time. We appreciate your patience with us during this period.”
DelRossi, who also serves as the District’s Chief Financial Officer, shares promising news of the state committing to providing $1.7 billion annually in additional funding for Medi-Cal reimbursements. However, the exact methodology has yet to be discovered at this time. “While this is good news, it does not mean we can cease profit margin improvements,” he wrote. “We should always ask: How can we make it better.”
As for bankruptcy, DelRossi still believes it is necessary to have a plan addressing the topic. “I have stated for many months that we have to consider a way forward to keep the hospital operating and maintaining services,” DelRossi says. “At multiple NIHD Board meetings, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, and other meetings, I have stated that we must consider bankruptcy, but I have not defined what generally happens in a motion to and adjudication of bankruptcy.”
DelRossi explains Chapter 9 bankruptcy allows public organizations to reorganize debt. Yet, it does not cancel all debts or contracts. “I feel we have 24 months at current practices before we would need to enter into bankruptcy, should it come to that point,” he wrote to staff. “Also, if forced into bankruptcy, the custodian would order us to undertake the steps already being taken – examination of revenues and expenses with the intention of placing the district on firm financial ground.”
Delving into years of inherited issues takes work. NIHD is not alone in this situation. DelRossi says many hospitals nationwide, specifically several in California, are in similar positions. He hopes NIHD can learn from their shared successes. DelRossi says this is not a time to place blame but rather to ensure quality local healthcare in 10 years, 25 years, and beyond.
“With respect to the District, there has been financial mismanagement for years, so it is incumbent on us to make all necessary changes to ensure the hospital’s long-term viability for the sake of the community,” DelRossi wrote to staff. “To do so means we all must look for every opportunity to reduce spending or increase revenue. I hope you see that every item is being reviewed to optimize our efficiencies. It is also important to understand that the NIHD Executive Team is committed to recovering this District. To do so, we need your help to get the best efficiencies possible.”
DelRossi remains committed to communicating with the NIHD team and community members. In addition to frequent staff memos, the first regular bi-weekly Employee Town Halls took place this week. Plans are in the works for a series of Community Town Halls.
Voters in Big Pine and Bishop voted NIHD into existence in January 1946 after raising $5.5 million dollars through community fundraisers to bring quality local healthcare to Northern Inyo County.