Board of Supervisors Off-Site Meeting: Health Care Agency

By Sheryl Hamlin

Babies are our Business…

This is the second report from the October 13, 2015 Ventura County Off-Site Special Meeting in Santa Paula. To read the first report, click here.

Barry Fisher of Ventura’s Health Care Agency presented the agency he directs. He reported that Mrs. Hicks’ problem with Blue Cross as reported in Public Comments will be fixed “to her satisfaction tomorrow morning”.  To watch Director Fisher’s presentation, click here at 1:07.

At 3000 employees and $700 million operating budget, the Health Care Agency is the largest agency in Ventura County. With Ventura county’s population around 846,178, this budget amounts to over $800 per person in the county.  As the director’s presentation shows, there are services applicable across the board. In addition to presenting an overview of the agency’s services, Mr. Fisher focused on Santa Paula’s hospital, which he called “the gem of the valley”.

Barry Fisher

Barry Fisher

The divisions are shown in the following chart. Precise details were given as follows. He noted that the County Health Care Plan serves most of the county employees.

  • Hospitals

– Ventura County Medical Center

– Family Medicine Residency Program (Awarded # 1 in Nation)

– Santa Paula Hospital

  • Ambulatory Care Medical Clinics

– 16 Primary Care Medical Clinics

– 26 Specialty Care Medical Clinics

– 6 Urgent Care Medical Clinics

  • Behavioral Health

– 10 Behavioral Health Clinics

  • Public Health

– 2 Public Health Clinics

  • Mobile Units

– Mobile Medical Clinic, Mammography, Health Access & Education Center and Tobacco Bus


Santa Paula Hospital was purchased by the county in 2003 and reopened in 2006. Located at the top of the hill on 10th Street, all rooms have glorious views. Two days after the reopening, the first baby was born. Subsequently over 3000 babies have been born in the Santa Paula Hospital.  Santa Paula Hospital is “baby friendly”, a designation shared by only 292 hospitals in the United States! He provided these details about the hospital.

  • 49 bed hospital, fully integrated with comprehensive outpatient clinic and specialty services
  • 12 of those beds are in our OB department
  • Every room boasts a beautiful view
  • In January 2015 The Breastfeeding Café bilingual support group launched weekly meetings at Santa Paula West Medical Group
  • Prenatal breastfeeding classes meet the first 3 weeks of every month, alternating each month between English and Spanish


The director said that the hospital has a “fully integrated” health system, similar to what Kaiser has. Integrating the Hospitalists Groups of VCMC and Santa Paula Hospital as well as the Anesthesiology Group has resulted in more efficient surgery scheduling, thus they have been able to increase the number of surgeries performed. The Seaside Emergency Group was also combined with VCMC and Santa Paula giving more efficiencies and service through streamlining the processes resulting in more patients seen by the emergency doctors.


Good management has resulted in a positive financial picture for the hospital, going from a negative $2.8 million (loss) in FY 2007 to a positive $1.88 million in FY 2015, thus confirming the decision to reopen the hospital. The director said it was an amazing team effort to turn this hospital from a vision to a positive, both in services and in the financials. He pointed out that net income has dropped due to the seismic retrofit which was required. This work will certify the hospital through 2030. They have implemented the Cerner medical records system, which allows a patient to move through the system from hospital to hospital with his or her medical records easily transferrable. They are expanding the pharmacy and opening a third operating room. SPH was awarded Cal Noc Award FY 2013/2014 (prevention of hospital acquired ulcers). They replaced the boilers which saves energy and water. He also said that they are planning for the East Area One expansion.

Services specially provided for Santa Paula:

  • CATCH (COPD Access to Community Health) referral program is offered to improve health outcomes for COPD patients. Services include home visitation & case management
  • Covered CA and Medi-Cal Education/Enrollment Assistance for Health Access (county wide)
  • Grief Support Group provided in collaboration with Assisted Home Hospice at SPH weekly
  • Santa Paula Citizen Corps at SPH monthly
  • Tobacco Cessation, 6-week sessions, 4 sessions/year at SPH
  • Evidenced Based Senior Fall Prevention Program, “Stepping On,” by the Area Agency on Aging, a 7-week fall prevention series for seniors at SPH

Family Care is a concept where the primary care physician sees a patient through life stages, which they are implementing at SPH.



Santa Paula is well-served by clinics. Services include:

  • Diabetes Case Management
  • FQHC for Healthcare for the Homeless
  • Ob/Gyn Services
  • Patient Care Integration, a collaboration between Ambulatory Care and Behavioral Health to offer mental health service in the Primary Care setting
  • Primary and Specialty Care Services
  • 1st LGBT “Pride Clinic” and Tutoring Center offered at Santa Paula West Clinic
  • Santa Paula Medical Clinic continues their successful Tattoo Removal Clinic, the brain child of Supervisor Kathy Long, now in its 16th year



Other important clinics include Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Centers. They are working with Latino Town Hall to share information. Public Health promotes Healthy Families weekly. Mobile units are used to reach all areas.


This was a detailed presentation showing a wealth of services for Santa Paula and the county. Ideally the General Plan Update process will consider options for the hospital after 2030 when the seismic certification expires. This building is architecturally important having been designed by noted Santa Paula architect John Stroh. If not certifiable after 2030, then an appropriate adaptive use for the hospital should be found to maintain this important piece of mid-century architecture.


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Sheryl Hamlin