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Santa Clara County Health and Hospital System Prepares for Health Care Reform

Board Approves Contract for Plan; Authorizes New Health Care Reform Advisory Team

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—Today, following the recommendation of County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors took two actions that will help the Santa Clara County Health and Hospital System ensure that it is prepared for Health Care Reform. The Board approved a contract with Alvarez & Marsal, the firm which recently conducted a review of Valley Medical Center finances and operations. The Board also approved the creation of the Santa Clara County Health Care Reform Advisory Team.

“The Alvarez & Marsal engagement will support the mission of the health and hospital system so it can thrive as the national healthcare landscape undergoes a transformation,” said Smith.

The firm will focus on three principal areas: Preparing for Health Care Reform; improving cost discipline; and establishing operational targets using external peer-group benchmarks, including measures of patient satisfaction, community quality standards, and employee involvement. This approach will enable the HHS to integrate services across the continuum of care, while at the same time improve internal controls and management of key cost centers.

Under Health Care Reform, the nation’s health delivery system is shifting to disease prevention, wellness, and chronic disease management. The new focus is intended to avoid costly inpatient care and preventable deaths. Traditionally, hospitals have relied on generating revenue through increased visits.

The County also recently placed a renewed emphasis on the role of the Public Health Department (Public Health). Public Health will play a greater role in outreach and community education to help residents understand the connection between behavior and lifestyle choices and preventable chronic disease.

The Board also approved the creation of a Health Care Reform Advisory Team. This Team will be composed of stakeholders and clients and will share its best thinking with the County Executive.

“The County health care system forms the foundation of our local safety net and its services are vitally important to the well-being of our community,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, President of the Board of Supervisors. “The Health Care Reform Advisory Team will help ensure that all interested parties’ input are considered in the decision making process.”

The Health Care Reform Advisory Team will include clients, staff, partners, unions, and State and federal representatives. The Team will meet on a regular basis to discuss and identify strategic issues that need to be addressed by the County.

“When President Obama signed the Health Care Reform Bill in March, we knew it would bring about sweeping changes to the health care system,” said Supervisor Liz Kniss, Chair of the County’s Health and Hospital Committee. “For the average person, the questions were about whether it would affect their current status. For counties that deliver health care, the question is: How can we prepare and organize to leverage each and every opportunity to deliver excellent health care, and achieve the best health outcomes for our community?”

“We all realize it is not possible to “treat” our way out of the health care crises that exist in this country,” said Smith. “We have to focus on prevention. The staggering rate of chronic disease among the aging baby boomer population, and today’s young people signal trouble ahead.”

“Given the limits on public financial resources, we have to make the investment today to restructure the way we deliver services at every level of government,” Smith continued.

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119
Posted: May 25, 2010