Sonoma Valley Hospital's new CEO said she does not plan to lay off any employees and said the hospital is operating in the black after a period of budget shortfalls.
"I think I'm being brought in at a time when you are going to see a lot of growth and true reputation changes for Sonoma Valley Hospital in the community," said Kelly Mather.
The Sonoma Valley Health Care District Board announced Mather's hiring Tuesday in a press release that touted her experience establishing employee wellness and community outreach programs, including at Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport where Mather served as CEO for eight years.
Mather, 43, said she hopes to bring some of those concepts to Sonoma Valley but said initially she will focus on more traditional executive tasks.
She said the hospital will release a strategic plan within the next 90 days that will include "pretty aggressive" ideas for increasing revenue.
Sonoma voters in 2008 endorsed a bond measure that will generate $35 million over 20 years. Hospital officials said the money was needed to retire a $4 million debt, build a new air-conditioning and central-heating plant, provide seismic upgrades to extend the life of the west wing, finance building improvements and buy medical equipment.
Mather said the bond money has already improved the hospital's bottom line. But she said the organization could be doing more to keep patients from leaving Sonoma and going elsewhere for their health care needs.
One of her wishes, to hire a new orthopedic surgeon to attract Medicare patients, has already been done, she said.
"Most Medicare patients would like to stay in their community for care, and now they have the opportunity to do that," she said.
Mather praised former CEO Carl Gerlach for putting the hospital on a path to sustainability and she said she hopes to build on that.
She said one area that needs improvement is for the hospital to be reimbursed for health care services at the same rate as other institutions.
Mather was hired as the CEO of San Leandro Hospital in 1996, when she was 28-years-old.
After being hired to take the helm of Sutter Lakeside in 2000, she began developing the "Healing Model for Hospitals" concept, which is a holistic approach to health care that involves employees, patients and the community.
Mather's husband, Rick, is a stay-at-home father and part-time substitute teacher. The couple, who have three children, are planning to relocate to Sonoma from Lakeport.