All posts by Bradford Evans

Northern Inyo Hospital is Running Low on COVID-19 Tests

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers and Chief of Staff, Dr. Stacey Brown held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the current situation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic at Northern Inyo Healthcare District.

Nothing major has happened this week according to Dr. Brown, which is something he is relieved about. “I am super happy that we don’t have anything earth shattering to report on today, which shows that we are doing what we can to put a lid on this thing,” Brown remarked.

The discussion shifted toward antibody testing, which is being offered to essential workers throughout the community. “I think we are getting some traction finally on the testing front. I believe we will expand our net of antibody testing before these tests expire on the twenty-fifth of this month. Personally, I have signed off on eight to ten tests for my patients in the past few days. We will hear from our Director of Diagnostics, Larry Weber on how many tests have been administered by next Wednesday,” Brown said

Though antibody testing is available for many in the community, the same can not be said for the hospital’s supply of nasal swabs that detect active COVID-19 infection.

Northern Inyo Hospital has a short supply of PCR nasal swabs due to the rise in cases throughout the United States.

Dr. Timbers remarked that the supply chains are starting to waver, which has made it more difficult for the hospital to acquire testing kits. The Chief Medical Officer said, “We are down to twelve tests, so we will likely run out of them in the next few days. We will be receiving more of them in the next 5-7 days. The reason for a lack of tests goes back to the conversation at beginning of pandemic. We need to have systems in place, so when we do have a crisis situation we can respond accordingly.”

Bureau of Land Management to Discuss Management Plan for the Alabama Hills

BISHOP, California. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office is seeking public input for the future management of the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine in Inyo County. Today’s release of an environmental assessment lays out three proposed alternatives and begins a 30-day public review period that ends on August 7, 2020.

 

Set between the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Owens Valley, the Alabama Hills are a unique formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills that encompass more than 29,000 acres of public land that is well known for its mix of scenic, cultural, geological, educational, biological, historical, recreational, cinematographic, and scientific values. In March 2019, President Trump signed Public Law 116-9 (P.L. 116-9), also known as the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which designated 18,745 acres within the Alabama Hills as a National Scenic Area. The BLM is currently preparing a management plan for the Scenic Area and adjacent public lands in the Alabama Hills Special Recreation Management Area.

 

Implementing P.L. 116-9 is a top priority for the Department of the Interior as we work to strike a proper balance for land and resource management, increase access for hunting, fishing, and recreation, and create economic prosperity, while protecting and preserving America’s treasures.

 

“We welcome continued public engagement in our effort to develop a comprehensive plan for management of the area,” says Bishop Field Manager Steve Nelson. “We also look forward to completing the plan and working with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, the local tribe, and the Lone Pine community to implement management strategies that will ensure the long-term protection, conservation, public access, and responsible use of this magnificent landscape.”

 

To facilitate public review and encourage public participation in the Alabama Hills planning effort, the BLM will host two virtual meetings in late July. Public meeting materials will be available on the project website: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1502669/570. Virtual meetings will be conducted on the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, July 22, from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

 

To register for one of the virtual meetings, go to the project website. Once registered, you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the meeting. These instructions will also include an option to call into the meeting using a traditional phone line.

 

Written comments on the proposed alternatives in the environmental assessment can be submitted via email to: blm_ca_alabama_hills_planning@blm.gov; by fax: 760-872-5055; or by mail to: BLM Bishop Field Office, Attn: Alabama Hills Management Plan, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 100, Bishop, CA  93514.

 

Before including addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other personal identifying information in a comment, commenters should be aware that the entire comment, including personal identifying information, could be made publicly available at any time. While the public may ask the BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

 

For specific questions, please call Project Manager Monica Buhler at 760-872-5000.

Clifton Jeff Mason Obituary

Graveside Funeral Services have been announced for lifelong Bishop Resident CLIFTON JEFF MASON SR.

Born on April 20th 1956 and Deceased on June 29th 2020 surrounded by his family at his bedside

He was prominently known as John and Dancing-Bear throughout the Local Area and was a jack of all trades kind of guy, working for many of the local businesses and tribal governments. He is a proud Tim-bisha Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute Native American.

He is survived by his sons – Erick Mason, Clifton “Chopper” Mason Jr. and Justin Kinney; daughter – Julie Mason; step-daughters – Carrie Marquez and Lorena Levine. His step-father Earl Frank Jr.; brothers: Douglas Mason and Earl “Duke” Frank III; Sisters – Pamela Frank, Rachel Mason (of Schurz, Nevada), and Daris Mason (of Reno, Nevada). grandchildren: Hay-wee Mason, Timothy Mason, Ana-kee Mason, Clifton “Pah-hee” Mason III, Jasmine Mason, Emily Mason, Weston Mason, Justin Kinney Jr., Hollis Mason. step-grandchildren: Justine Kinney, Jesse Marquez, Cailey Marquez and Jacob Marquez. He has numerous aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and grandchildren that he loved dearly.

He is preceded in death by his mother – Amelia Patterson-Frank, and his father – Dorland Mason. daughter – Janine Marie Mason, son -Gerald Allen Mason, brothers – Rick Mason and Edmond “Henry” Mason, sisters – Jaqueline Mason and Doreen Mason.

Graveside Funeral services will be held on Saturday July 11, 2020, 11:00 A.M. at the Fish Lake Valley Cemetery in Dyer Nevada. A grab and go luncheon will follow at the Community Center. Attendees must wear masks and maintain a minimum of six feet apart.

Southern Inyo Hospital Reaches Payment Plan With Creditors

The Board of Directors of the Southern Inyo Healthcare District is pleased to announce the United States Bankruptcy Court – Eastern District of California -Sacramento Division approved the District’s plan for paying its creditors and bringing resolution to the bankruptcy case on July 6, 2020. The Board of Directors and the entire hospital and clinic staff want to thank all of the community partners and friends of Southern Inyo Hospital who faithfully, tirelessly gave their time, energy and resources to the hospital during this nearly 5 year journey. Without their support and that of our 5th district county supervisor Matt Kingsley this outcome would not have been possible.

A copy of the Disclosure State and Plan may be accessed on the District’s website: www.sihd.org.

Please contact hospital administration at 760-876-5501 ext.2210 or email Peter Spiers, CEO at pspiers@sihd.org if you have any questions or comments.

Inyo National Closes Group Camps Under Forest Order

The Inyo National Forest is extending the closure of all group campgrounds and two remote campgrounds under a forest order closure The closure can be terminated or extended depending in conditions.

Please see Exhibit A (in the link above) for a full list of campgrounds included in this order.

The decision is based upon recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local health authorities.

Developed recreation group campsites on the Inyo National Forest typically draw large groups of people, creating mass gatherings and concentrated groups of forest visitors. This results in significant management oversight. especially during the high use conditions now being experienced.

Additionally, due to lack of personnel it is necessary to close two developed campgrounds, Grandview Campground and Kennedy Meadows Campground, located in remote areas of the Inyo National Forest. These facilities are located in areas that timely and routine cleaning cannot occur.

This closure is an interim measure. The Inyo National Forest will follow guidelines from the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, to ensure that the safety of our employees and our visitors is a priority.

Visitors are also urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

Crash in Lone Pine Leads to Multiple Injuries

On July 6, 2020, at approximately 4:00 p.m. officers of the Bishop Area CHP responded to a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of US-395 and Inyo St. in Lone Pine. Jerrold Stolaroff of Santa Cruz, CA was driving a gold Toyota pickup and was entering the intersection of Inyo St. and US-395 from the Museum of Western Film History when it was struck broadside by a white Chevrolet pickup, which was being driven by Vicente Hernandez of Lone Pine, CA. The collision caused the Toyota to overturn. A preliminary investigation on scene indicates that the Chevrolet was traveling southbound at a high rate of speed through Lone Pine just prior to the collision. Injuries were reported by both drivers, as well as three passengers, and a dog from the Toyota pickup. This collision is still under investigation by the Bishop Area CHP. As always, Bishop CHP would like to thank Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Lone Pine Volunteer Fire Department, Independence Volunteer Fire Department and the citizen’s that assisted the victims immediately following the collision.

South Lake Road Construction Update: No Overnight Parking Allowed

Joint Press Release from US Forrest Service and Inyo County

Stating on July 6, and anticipating effective through July 25, the South Lake Road Reconstruction Project will implement no overnight parking in the South Lake area. This will include the Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking, boat trailer parking, and some of the day use parking near South Lake. Additionally, there is  no parking permitted along roadside shoulders during the construction project.

This closure will allow the contractor to pulverize and pave these parking lots. The construction schedule remains Monday – Friday, 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. Expect up to 30-minute delays. Flaggers and a pilot car will manage traffic, allowing alternating two-way traffic.

Hikers entering or exiting the Bishop Pass Trail at South Lake should plan their trips in accordance with the construction schedule. Hikers need to plan for travel delays, re-routed trailhead access, understand that that long-term parking is not available, plan to be picked up or dropped off at the trailhead, consider shuttles to/from trailheads, and utilize alternative trails for resupply, if possible.

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA)’s Bishop Creek Shuttle is running twice daily Please see the attached for a list of operators who may provide shuttles on the forest. Hiker Shuttles: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd586535.pdf.

The contractor is required to provide 40 day-use parking spaces in the area. However, since this is a popular recreation destination for boating, fishing, and hiking, these spaces will fill up quickly. Visitors should plan that parking, which is difficult in a normal year, will be substantially reduced during this project and will likely not be available.

Additionally, overnight parking will be allowed in the dirt lot just north of the Tyee Lakes Trailhead, including bear boxes for food storage (see attached map). It is approximately a three-mile walk to the Bishop Pass Trailhead via the trail behind Willow Campground that continues near Parchers Resort and connects to the trailhead on the east side of South Lake Road.

Motorhomes and trailers are not recommended past Four Jeffreys Campground unless you have a reservation with Creekside Resort, Bishop Creek Lodge, or Parchers Resort during this period since there is no safe turn-around past this point. Local businesses and services along South Lake Road remain open and accessible.

There is no way to complete a project of this nature without it having a significant impact on visitors to the area. Accessing the area may be, at times, difficult and frustrating.  If you have any flexibility in your plans, please consider a visit to South Lake/Bishop Pass destinations in another year.

As a reminder, the project’s scope stated that Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking and Tyee Lakes Trailhead Parking and certain campgrounds will be closed at times this summer, although access to the trailheads will be maintained

Klondike Lake Open for Public Boating

From July 3 to September 7 (Labor Day), Klondike Lake will be open for limited public boating use on weekend days only: Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 9 a.m. to sunset. At this time spots are limited and on a first come, first served basis.

Precautions are being taken to guard against invasive mussels, so all motorized watercraft must be inspected before being launched into Klondike Lake. Due to COVID-19, face coverings and social distancing are required. We will take additional measures during boat inspections to protect boat owners and LADWP employees. Boat access to Klondike  is free this summer period  and subject to change for future seasons.

Access for motorized watercraft being transported by car, truck and/or trailer will be allowed for a one-hour period between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. at the gate entrance in order to accommodate inspections. After watercraft have been inspected and granted access, visitors can enjoy the lake for as long as they want that day, while practicing safe social distancing. Please note, recreational users with smaller, non-motorized watercraft that are not transported with a trailer can access the lake at any time.

 

Ethel Messer Obituary

Messer, Ethel Louise Delcina Rook, born in Barstow, California, on October 17, 1940, passed away at the age of 79 peacefully among friends in her home in Shoshone, California, on June 23, 2020.  Ethel served in several positions on the Death Valley Unified School District Board including President, and was also a Teacher and PTA President.  She was the owner of Rook and Messer Excavating and Mining company and Nopah Farms Mobile Home Park.  She worked as a photographer for the Mirror, Gateway Gazette, and Pahrump Valley Times.  After retiring, Ethel managed the Museum in Shoshone, California.  She had a love for nature and art, and was an accomplished quilter, seamstress, painter, jeweler, and photographer.  Ethel is preceded in death by her parents Carl and Stella Rook, and her husband of 50 years, Luvon Messer.  She is survived by her two brothers, Carl and James Rook, and six sons, Russel, Donald, Nathan, Art, Hank, and Brian Messer, 23 Grand Children, and 19 Great-Grand Children.  Viewing will be held at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 11, 2020, in Shoshone, California, at the Flower Building.  Due to social distancing guidelines, graveside services will be private.  A Celebration of Life will be held at a future date for those unable to attend.

 

NIHD’s Interim CEO and Chief Medical Officer Staying Put for One More Year in Roles

Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s Board of Directors is postponing its search for a new Chief Executive Officer. The Board is instead opting to extend the service term of Interim CEO Kelli Davis as well as Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Timbers for one year.

The moves follow a June 24 Board meeting presentation on the District’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. Like all rural healthcare facilities across the country, NIHD faces serious deficits and budget challenges due in large part to COVID-19. The District will face a $4.7 million deficit at the end of the current fiscal year, with a projected $10.6 million loss in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

District leaders presented a mitigation plan that calls for some currently vacant staff positions to remain that way. The District also will review major service contracts, refinance its bond debt, and begin other district-wide reductions designed to narrow the deficit gap. Efforts to increase visitation, and ultimately revenue, will be undertaken as the pandemic environment allows. 

Financial Consultant Vinay Behl said revenue is expected to close at $84 million in the current fiscal year, a drop of almost $13 million from the previous year. Behl projects revenue to close at $73 million in the coming fiscal year. How federal and state relief plays into the budget numbers remains to be seen.

Behl told the NIHD Board that he and the NIHD Finance staff took a very conservative approach to the 2020-21 budget. “I can totally understand that no one likes surprises, especially bad ones,” Behl said.

Behl then suggested that the Board consider halting its CEO search, saving the District almost $600,000 in recruitment costs and CEO salary and benefits. “Management led by Kelli Davis has a lot of initiatives in flight,” Behl said. “The team is nimble and agile, and I cannot stress enough how dedicated and diligent your management team is, and I think that should be a matter of great pride.”

Behl said in his professional opinion bringing in a new CEO at this time could be counterproductive to the existing leadership team’s efforts. “Any CEO will have an agenda, and we will see a steep curve in onboarding a new CEO. A leader like Kelli, who is already in the District, who has already proven herself, who enjoys the support of the various teams, well, I would request the Board consider allowing this team to continue its work and suspend the CEO search for at least a year,” Behl said, noting there is just too much at stake to think otherwise. Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Aspel and Interim Medical Officer Dr. William Timbers supported the idea, noting the great collaboration they’ve had with Davis. Both CNO and ICMO, although deferred any final word on extending Davis’ interim service to Davis.

Davis agreed to accept the extension. When asked how this would further impact her role as NIHD’s Chief Operation Officer, Davis acknowledged that realignment of some COO duties would need to take place. While some would go to other chiefs, Davis also noted strong players with the District. “We also have amazing directors, managers, and assistant managers that we could pull into service, especially once we look at the mitigation plan.”

Davis also referenced the importance of the Board approving the request to make the CMO position a permanent one.

“We have a lot of work to do moving forward. Having a resource in a solid executive team is imperative,” Davis continued. “To do the job that needs to be done here, we have to have that, and that is what we are asking the Board tonight. We have a lot of homework here. This is not a job we cannot do, it’s definitely something we can. We need to get the budget in alignment and to address the knowns, the anticipated, and the unknowns.”

The Board had initiated CEO recruitment, signing a search agency contract just weeks ago. Citing their displeasure with the agency’s responsiveness, the Board agreed to try and withdraw from the contract after legal review and consultation with Behl. The Board then unanimously agreed to postpone the CEO search, and later unanimously approved making the CMO position permanent.

Board member Mary Mae Kilpatrick turned the tables on Dr. Timbers. She asked him if he would extend his interim service term to match Davis’ new commitment. Dr. Timbers said he had discussed the possibility with his family and weighed what that would mean to his work as an Emergency Department physician. Looking at a waiting Kilpatrick, he said he would indeed match Davis’ service term.

Board Chair Jean Turner had nothing but praise for the District’s team. “When I think about where you started and what has been accomplished with this team, it makes my head spin. I feel informed, and I feel as if I am now able to truly be part of the team and be able to help. It is astounding, just thinking of all the district leaders that made this happen. I’m sure there were night and weekend hours that went in for us to be here tonight with this much information. I cannot thank you enough, and it clearly illustrates what this team has been doing and is capable of.”

The Board is holding a special meeting this weekend to work with governance expert Dr. Jim Rice. The next regular NIHD Board meeting is set for Wednesday, July 15, 5:30 p.m. These meetings are available via the Zoom video conferencing application to comply with social distancing precautions. Look for agendas and Zoom invites on www.NIH.org.