2020 - A Year in Review

Written by Steve Popkin on

By the time you are reading this, we will already be in the year 2021. So, let’s take a brief look back at 2020 (hindsight is 2020), so we can then focus on the present and the future.


By the time you are reading this, we will already be in the year 2021. So, let’s take a brief look back at 2020 (hindsight is 2020), so we can then focus on the present and the future.

Dear Lompoc Valley Community,

By the time you are reading this, we will already be in the year 2021. So, let’s take a brief look back at 2020 (hindsight is 2020), so we can then focus on the present and the future.

I will be okay if I never again hear the phrase “unprecedented times.” I don’t need to tell all of you about COVID-19; many of you may have lost a loved one, or had your lives turned upside down in other ways. Our hearts go out to all of you.

Sometimes, though, if we look hard enough we can find a silver lining. One of my favorite quotes is, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option.” I believe this applies to all of us as individuals, to our community, and to our LVMC Team. This is part of the silver lining. We know that we are stronger now than we were a year ago, that we can overcome challenges that at first seem insurmountable, and that we have a great capacity to think of the needs of others, rather than our own.

Other words that come to mind to describe this silver lining that we at LVMC will carry with us into the future include adaptability, creative thinking, collaboration, selflessness, and multi-focus. Let me provide at least one example of each.

  • Adaptability – When the pandemic started, and many patients were discouraged from coming to physician offices for needed medical care, we reacted quickly, and implemented the technology and processes to offer telehealth visits to our Lompoc Health patients. It was a successful transition, and although most patients are now opting for in-person visits, the telehealth alternative is still available.
  • Creative Thinking – As one might expect, the protocols and processes in a hospital, and in other medical facilities, are very prescribed, and appropriately rigid. When the pandemic hit, we had to change our mindset. While maintaining patient safety as our overriding objective, we rapidly created many new protocols and processes, including surgical procedure pre-op testing and scheduling, Emergency Department registration and infection prevention, COVID-19 patient unit creation, staff PPE and protection policies, patient visitation protocols, and many, many more.
  • Collaboration – At LVMC, we have always made internal collaboration a priority. However, the pandemic created exponentially more opportunities and requirements for collaboration. It brought together physicians, management, and frontline staff from virtually every department to work together to find ways to accomplish our urgent goals. It is very heartening to see. Looking externally, one of the bright spots is that this public health crisis has transformed the three hospital systems in Santa Barbara County (Cottage, Marian and LVMC) from friendly competitors to close allies. The CEO’s of the three organizations meet virtually at least weekly to compare notes, offer each other suggestions, coordinate approaches to address common issues, and jointly coordinate efforts with County leadership. This is how local healthcare should work but rarely does. This will also serve us very well moving forward.
  • Selflessness – I have been very inspired to witness the selflessness of our LVMC Team, including our nurses and other frontline healthcare workers, our physicians and providers, and our non-clinical staff, at all of our LVMC facilities (Hospital, Comprehensive Care Center, Lompoc Health clinics and others). They have put themselves and their families in harm’s way, and if there has been a complaint about doing so, I have not heard it. They have put the needs of our community members above their own, and I am very proud of them.
  • Multi-Focus – It would be understandable for LVMC staff to become consumed with COVID-19, but they did not let that happen. Some examples of “non-Covid” initiatives we have implemented or expanded during 2020 include establishment of our Occupational Medicine service line, expansion of our Bariatric Surgery and Spine Surgery programs, collaboration with Crestwood Behavioral Health and Santa Barbara County to bring a Mental Health Rehabilitation Center to the Champion Center, refinancing general obligation bonds to reduce expense for taxpayers, recruitment of primary care and specialist physicians, establishment of a new Hospitalist Medical Group for inpatient care, maintaining a CMS 5-Star rating at the CCC, enhancing our clinical quality metrics in several significant areas, receiving Blue Distinction Center designation for our joint replacement service, receiving California Department of Health’s Gold Medal designation for our Antimicrobial Stewardship Program, and our recently initiated quest for Nursing Center of Excellence designation by CHIQ, the organization that does hospital accreditation on behalf of CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).

Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, LVMC as a state-approved "Vaccinating Provider,” will be well into vaccinating Lompoc Valley residents, beginning with those at the highest risk. Once that happens, I am confident that the light at the end of the tunnel will be getting brighter and brighter day-by-day.

The generosity and support from our community (more to come about that in this publication) has been tremendous and so very much appreciated by all of us at LVMC. One year ago when I wrote this column, I thanked all of you for welcoming me to your community. Now, when we have a new doctor or staff member come to town, I am proud to say welcome to our community.

I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please feel free to call me at (805) 737-3301 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Warm regards,

Steve Popkin

Steve Popkin
Written by
Steve Popkin
Chief Executive Officer