Sensiba a boost for ValleyCare | August 30, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Column - August 30, 2013

Sensiba a boost for ValleyCare

by Jeb Bing

With Obama-care changes coming next year along with reductions in what Medicare and private health insurance carriers will pay doctors and hospitals, the election of financial expert John Sensiba as chairman of the ValleyCare Health System board of directors bodes well for Pleasanton's local hospital. Sensiba, who is managing partner of the regional accounting firm of Sensiba San Filippo LLP, was on ValleyCare's board for four years before being named chairman at the health system's annual meeting last month.

Active in a number of local and regional organizations, Sensiba has been a longtime advocate of keeping nonprofit ValleyCare independent and locally governed. This at a time when hospitals throughout the country are merging and becoming part of major medical centers with facilities and management far from the local communities they serve. Years ago, ValleyCare faced the same threats but a determined volunteer board of Pleasanton leaders rescued the hospital from the health care merger mania of the time. Sensiba is determined to keep ValleyCare both independent and financially successful.

He has the background and experience to make that happen. With more than 25 years of experience in professional accounting, business consulting and tax advisory services to companies throughout Northern California, Sensiba plans to continue the focus of the ValleyCare board and its chief executive officer Marcy Feit on fiscal stability, market growth and quality health care. During his tenure on the board, ValleyCare has opened urgent care services in Dublin in addition to Livermore, and now has teamed with Walmart to station a health care service booth inside the store. More service expansions are likely as ValleyCare steers patients who are seeking routine care away from the hospital's high-cost emergency room. This is no different than his rapidly growing accounting firm determining that with the multitude of changes in state, federal and international tax laws, CPAs can't be "the Jack of all trades" anymore, but need to have staff and offices to serve the specific needs of clients.

President Obama's national health care plan kicks in starting Jan. 1 and presents challenges to ValleyCare as a major regional health care system and also to those who sit on its board of directors, which is responsible for the strategic planning that guides the organization. While Feit and her team handle the day-to-day operations at ValleyCare, the board handles all matters of quality, credentialing, approving hospital privileges for physicians and establishing and supporting the strategic direction of ValleyCare.

In one area particularly, Sensiba has seen the duties of board members doubling many times over in just keeping up with regulatory changes that affect hospital operations. In this rapidly changing regulatory environment, board members -- all unpaid volunteers -- become the ones responsible for keeping ValleyCare ahead of the pack as Kaiser, San Ramon Regional Medical Center and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation vie for patients and financial support from the Tri-Valley community.

That keeps Sensiba on the speaking circuit talking more frequently about the benefits of ValleyCare along with his "day job" of meeting across the region with clients who also are facing tighter government scrutiny and regulations. Sometimes, Sensiba thinks that some in Pleasanton and the ValleyCare marketing area take the hospital for granted. Just like the public library or police station or post office, they expect the hospital to always be here.

That's Sensiba's and ValleyCare's goal, but it also takes millions of dollars a year to keep ValleyCare operating as a premiere health care institution, one that, Sensiba insists, the people who live here must keep supporting both by using its services when needed and also contributing through the various fundraising drives ValleyCare initiates.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Good to see someone (and an organization) care so much about the community. Whether or not you agree with Obamacare, it's important to act quickly and prepare for the changes before they are in effect.

Like this comment
Posted by Really Blows
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2013 at 8:50 am

We are already seeing one of the first effects of Obamacare. Doctors are retiring in droves because they are disgusted. My primary care physician and two specialists at Valleycare recently retired. Meanwhile, a huge number of previously uninsured are going to overwhelm the remaining doctors. Just getting medical care is going to be a real challenge, and it's going to cost you a LOT more - provided you are not on welfare in which case you will get the care for free. Also, the "death panels" (yes, they DO exist with Obamacare) may very likely decide that granny isn't worth the cost and will let her croak. And, they may decide that cancer treatment you need is too expensive and you will croak.