Hospital wants to work together with community

As he gets ready to begin his second decade of service as Verdugo Hills Hospital President and CEO, Len La Bella is pointing his staff and the community toward better coordination of resources and the possibility of a new facility.

La Bella spoke at Verdugo Hills' President's Council Inaugural Meeting earlier this month to a group of about 15 leaders of local banks, schools, and other community organizations, invited by the hospital to be part of the council.

A second such community forum is planned in the next few months, and will include a different set of participants, also community members.

The meetings are a chance for the hospital and the community to interact and find ways to work together in an economic time when it's important to not duplicate efforts, La Bella said.

The objective of the first meeting, held on June 3, also was to get input from community leaders about a rebuild of the 37-year-old hospital structure.

“Verdugo is looking at rebuilding a facility in the next five years,” La Bella said, adding, “We'll probably begin the planning process seriously at the beginning of next year.”

With new technology in the areas of electronic medical records, wiring and patient room needs, as well as seismic retrofitting requirements, it makes sense to build a new facility, despite the current economy, La Bella said.

“We could go forward a lot more efficiently if we had a new facility. But, we really want community input,” he added.

The recent meeting turned into almost a focus group, as everyone became involved in finding ways to work together and better use resources to serve the community, La Bella said.

One way to work together is to coordinate with the YMCA and schools, to find out what programs those groups offer, and not duplicate, he added.

La Bella said he appreciated the comment of one of the attendees who suggested adding stress management programs, because of what many people are going through with economic and job situations.

“That's something that could be very helpful and we need to look into doing that. We all have limited resources, given the state of the economy, so we need to work together to support each other and collectively move forward,” La Bella said, adding, “I don't think there was anyone who didn't voice an opinion. Some people even stayed after the meeting to talk about how they can work together. There was a lot of sidebar activity. Overall, it was a very productive meeting and a good use of an hour of time.”

Pat Anderson, president and CEO of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, was one of the community members involved in the inaugural meeting.

Anderson said she applauds La Bella for reaching out to the community and the community for becoming involved in his teamwork scheme.

“I've always believed that there is more strength in numbers and in these challenging days, whether it be because of the economy or social justice issues, the more we can work together the better it will be,” Anderson said.

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