Workers Urge Pomona Hospital Board to Rein In CEO’s Outside Work

Workers Urge Pomona Hospital Board to Rein In CEO’s Outside Work

[Dec. 7, 2016] POMONA, Calif. – Healthcare workers at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center say patient care is getting short shrift because the CEO is overextended and distracted with his outside leadership roles, and urged the hospital’s board of directors to halt his external commitments.

The hospital has recently been found to have levels worse than the national rate for three different infections that threaten patient safety. At the same time, the facility is going through the arduous process of opening a major trauma center.

“We believe that key executives are distracted from focusing on delivering the highest quality of care because of their outside involvements,” workers said in a letter to the hospital’s board of directors. “As you know, the challenges of opening a new trauma center are intense, on top of operating a major healthcare center.”

Pomona Valley CEO Richard Yochum serves on the board of directors of Inter Valley Health Plan (IVHP), a health provider for more than 23,000 seniors in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties. Earlier this year, according to an audit by Ernst & Young, IVHP found that it lacked supporting medical records for more than 6,000 patient visits, prompting the health plan to remove those submissions to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and launch an investigation into billing submissions to CMS over the last six years.

In addition, Yochum has been an Association Member of the Los Angeles County Fair since 1995. The non-profit organization is in turmoil after paying its former CEO more than $1 million in 2014, and failing to pay $6 million in rent owed to Los Angeles County between 2006 and 2015.

In early 2017, Pomona Valley is expected to open a trauma center, the only one of its kind in eastern Los Angeles County. To operate smoothly, workers say Yochum should focus on it and reducing patient infections at the facility.

Patient safety at Pomona Valley is a growing concern. According to a national study released last month by Consumer Reports, in 2015, the hospital performed far worse than the national rate in three areas of patient safety: avoiding surgical site infections, and avoiding bacterial infections of Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The MRSA infection figure at Pomona Valley was 129 percent worse than other hospitals in the country. Both infections can be deadly.

Workers have repeatedly appealed to the hospital management to work together on a solution to the infections and other problems at the hospital. They voted in January 2016 to gain a stronger voice to improve patient care by joining SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). However, the hospital has repeatedly refused to recognize their vote and is instead wasting precious hospital resources on frivolous legal challenges, workers say. More than 1,100 Pomona Valley Hospital employees are affected.