KMC begins to explore merger

“Our goals are clear: Kern County’s public hospital that is so vital to our community must stand. KMC must operate more smartly with better efficiencies and KMC must continue to invest in a quality workforce to deliver best in class care.” Rosie Kidwell, program specialist at KMC, said this to the Board of Supervisors at a public meeting held at KMC. Among many other agenda items was the first public discussion that KMC might merge with Kern Health Systems to create a Kern County Health Authority. There are many interesting possibilities in this merger and our members on KMC’s Legislative and Leadership Committees went to the Board meeting today to express their support for looking at this option. Things are moving fast at KMC now and we all need to stay involved and pass on information to our co-workers as soon as we have it.

Also during the meeting, it was publicly disclosed that KMC’s losses for the month of April were on $370,000, much below the previous losses of roughly $3 million per month. The better numbers were attributed to staffing levels and much better revenue collection. We were finally given the tools and permission to do the job we knew we could do and it’s paying off. On top of this news, April had a very low hospital census, so these numbers were not driven by higher admissions.

While the better numbers were great news, the merger remained our big issue for the meeting. Phil Brown from KMC’s IT department said that members will be watching the details, but there is support for the merger at the June 9 meeting. “Creating a public healthcare system that provides the full continuum of care would be truly innovative for Kern County benefiting thousands of lives that it would touch,” said Brown.

“Should Kern Health Systems integrate with KMC, the county and community would gain much stronger health services from which the whole community would benefit.  The services that KMC provides to all residents, such as trauma, are strengthened while services for Medi-Cal patients are protected and enhanced.”

Chairwoman Leticia Perez expressed that SEIU member participation is key to any deal and that members had done a great job both on the committees and in their workplace helping to get KMC back on track. The board voted 3 – 0 with two members absent to explore the idea.

We need to make sure that more of our co-workers are coming to meetings, getting engaged and staying informed. Let’s up our game for the next big push.

For more details on what this could mean for KMC, see the flyer here.

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