New CEO works to restore confidence in Clinica Sierra Vista – The Bakersfield Californian

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Updated: November 16, 2022 @ 12:47 pm
Dr. Olga Meave has been appointed permanent CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista.

Dr. Olga Meave has been appointed permanent CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista.
Dr. Olga Meave’s ascendance to the top job at Clinica Sierra Vista was something of a trial by fire, times three.
On top of other problems at the Bakersfield-based chain of community health clinics — turbulence in administration, a pandemic and everything that went with them — Clinica’s new employees, so badly needed at the time, “were joining and they were leaving.”
The eyes of staff fell on Meave from the time she was named chief medical director in 2020 to her appointment as interim CEO in April of this year. She learned it had become her job to, as she called it during a phone interview Monday, “provide them with solutions.”
It hasn’t been easy, she said, lifting up an organization that’s on its third CEO in 2½ years and still recovering from the loss of several longtime, senior staff members under previous management. But Meave said she’s sticking with it.
“What I can tell you is that change is always hard,” said Meave, a Guadalajara-trained physician who completed a residency in Bakersfield before attending a health-care executive program at UCLA. “But we have a resilient group of people working with Clinica and they’re all very committed to our mission and vision, and I am very committed to staying for the long run. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”
Meave brings new leadership, not just herself but a new team of top managers, to a venerable organization that, since the retirement of its longtime leader at the end of 2017, has suffered a string of internal problems the organization tried hard to keep a lid on.
The result for Meave as chief executive is that she has had to prove herself, not just to staff but to her board, Clinica’s partners in the local delivery of health care and to the wider community.
Indications so far are that she is succeeding.
Clinica’s board of directors voted unanimously to appoint her permanent CEO after she served in the position on an interim basis for six months. President Kris DeLano said in a Nov. 3 news release announcing Meave’s appointment that the former chief medical officer had won the board’s confidence, and that its directors “look forward supporting Dr. Meave in her efforts to fulfill our mission.”
Bakersfield Memorial Hospital President and CEO Ken Keller said Meave has done tremendous work reconnecting with local stakeholders and working to improve transparency and communication with patients and the community at large.
“The troubles that (Clinica) had had, I believe they’re going to get through,” Keller said, adding, “She has the support of a lot of us in the community.”
Clinica, now in its 51st year, receives federal, state and local support to provide medical, dental and behavioral health care to about 200,000 people in Kern and Fresno counties. It represents an important network of physician and clinic services to an otherwise underserved share of the local population.
Meave succeeded Stacy Ferreira, Clinica’s former human resources chief who took over upon the April 2020 departure of former CEO Brian Harris, who after taking the job two years earlier was accused of unlawful discrimination and mismanagement. Both executives presided over the exit of senior managers.
Clinica and individual members of its board have consistently refused to address the departure of Harris or Ferreira.
Simply by granting a newspaper interview, Meave broke with Clinica’s tradition in recent years of ignoring reporters’ questions. The organization has also stymied inquiry by pressuring former employees to sign nondisclosure agreements and telling board members not to speak with local news media.
Meave said she cannot speak to executive departures under Harris and Ferreira, and that she was not part of former CEOs’ personnel decisions. She said her goal is to bring greater transparency and better communication while also improving quality of care and access.
She emphasizes to her staff that patients should be their top priority. For her, staff is also a top priority, she said, crediting that approach to a slowdown in turnover of employees.
“Fortunately, (staff attrition) is decreasing significantly, and I think it’s because the staff is really feeling the support from the leadership team,” she said. “They feel like they’re being heard.”
She pointed to progress on several fronts: expansion and remodeling of clinics, the hiring of several new people in executive positions and the filling out of a comprehensive care center that opened last year across the street from Bakersfield Memorial.
The CCC, as the care center is known, provides a wide range of medical attention, including primary and specialty care, dentistry, ob-gyn, optometry and laboratory services, all under one roof and, in many cases, same-day access. Meave said the facility continues to recruit staff as it nears full capacity. 
Clinica is about to reopen a new health center in Fresno and has resumed dental care at the majority of clinics that halted such services during the pandemic. Mobile dentistry units are also being introduced, and the organization expects to finish remodeling its clinic on First Street in Bakersfield.
While the organization is still recruiting for 194 positions, from associate medical director to nurses, Meave noted she has able to fill several important staff vacancies, including a chief operating officer and a chief human resources officer. She said she feels “in sync” with her top managers.
“I’m very excited for what is coming for Clinica Sierra Vista,” she said.
Keller praised Meave’s choice of staff, some of whom he knows personally, others by reputation. He said her focus is wisely placed on caring for patients and working to extend services at clinic sites to deliver the care necessary.
He declined to address past leadership decisions other than to say Meave looks like the person to put Clinica back on course.
Meave, he said, “is going to be instrumental in helping to lead that change, because she is a physician first and an administrator second.”
Kern’s largest chain of community health clinics has promoted its former chief medical officer to become permanent CEO, seven months after the…
Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 293,173
Deaths: 2,566
Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 288,159
Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 72.04
Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 83.20
Source: Kern County Public Health Services Department
Updated: 11/10/22
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