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Monday, Jun 24, 2024

Hospital on Mend Searches for New Chief Executive

Just as Simi Valley Hospital is rounding the corner on its transition to fiscal stability, it’s facing a change in leadership. CEO Darwin Remboldt announced he is leaving the 188-bed hospital effective immediately. The move came as a bit of a surprise to hospital officials. Remboldt, 63, cited personal and family health reasons for his decision. When Remboldt took over in 2008, the hospital was losing patients to competing institutions and bleeding red ink. Its facilities were dated and doctors were reluctant to refer patients there. In 2008 and 2009, the institution lost a combined total of $12.5 million as occupancy rates dipped below 40 percent. Its ward-style rooms — four beds per room — were a major impediment. In the four years that he led the institution, Remboldt was able to secure major investments from corporate parent Adventist Health. Adventist put up $75 million for a new 146,000-square-foot patient tower with 136 private, single-bed rooms. It also invested an additional $41 million for the expansion of the emergency room and other improvements about to get under way. “He has set the groundwork for the next person who can pick up where he left off,” said Leigh Nixon, a longtime member of the board and president of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce. But even as Adventist Health continues the search for Remboldt’s successor, the hospital is not yet out of danger. The hospital was only 44 percent occupied in 2010, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and while net patient revenue was up 14 percent to $113.5 million that year, it was still losing money — to the tune of $260,000. Last year’s figures are not yet publicly available, but Nixon said the hospital broke even and on some days, occupancy levels reached 70 percent. Nixon said the patient tower, which opened in June 2008, helped bring back many patients who had started migrating to more up-to-date facilities such as Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks. Remboldt chose not to give interviews about his tenure or to explain why he is leaving. In a prepared statement he said: “After considerable thought and prayer, I decided to retire now due to personal and family health reasons. I would like to keep those reasons private. This decision was not made lightly because I love and respect the work done at Simi Valley Hospital. I am confident that my successor will continue to move this organization forward.” That task will include overseeing a $41 million expansion that will include a much larger emergency room, a cardiac catherization lab and more surgical services. The emergency deparment expansion was a long time coming, said Nixon. “We just had four to five curtained rooms and everyone else was in the hallway,” she said. The plans call for doubling the number of beds to 20 and adding 5,500 square feet of space. With some 22,000 visits a year, the current emergency room can barely fill the current need. Plans have been drawn up, but the project has yet to be started. Hospital officials said in December that they hoped to break ground on the project in the coming months and finish the ED by sometime in 2013. Bill Wing, senior vice president of Adventist Health and chair of the Simi Valley Hospital Board, said the search for a successor will not stop or delay the project. “Adventist Health is committed to moving forward and continuing our plans with the $41 million hospital expansion project,” he said.

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