Four years ago, Keck Medicine of USC welcomed USC Verdugo Hills Hospital (USC-VHH), a long-standing fixture in the Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge community, to the medical enterprise. In December 2015, the hospital recruited Keith Hobbs, who held multiple leadership positions at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for more than 20 years, to serve as its new CEO.

Over the last year and a half the hospital has made incredible strides. Hobbs spoke with HSC News about USC-VHH’s progress, as well as the hospital’s future and continued growth.


When you arrived at USC-VHH, what were some of the challenges you identified?

Admittedly, we had not earned the trust of our community. I do not think the average person in the area would immediately associate USC Verdugo Hills Hospital with world-class care or clinical expertise. I understood that we would have to raise our standards as both a hospital and a community partner.


How would you describe the relationship between Keck Medicine and USC-VHH?

Our affiliation gives USC-VHH patients better access to specialized care. We have expanded our spectrum of specialty services, which includes orthopaedic, spine and urologic surgery. We offer the expertise of an academic medical center without ever having to leave the community. For patients who may require even more complex care, we serve as the gateway to the Keck Medicine of USC enterprise.

The Keck Medicine enterprise also provides us the resources necessary for expansion and improvement. Independent hospitals need the strength of a larger health system. Keck Medicine has made it possible for us to offer state-of-the-art technology and upgrade our facilities.


What are some of the changes implemented at the hospital over the last year?

Our quality and safety ratings have increased. We’ve raised our Transitional Care Unit rating from three- to five-out-of-five stars. We’ve seen significant improvements in our patient satisfaction surveys in our Emergency Department, which is responsible for 65 percent of our inpatient admissions, all the while experiencing steady growth in our volumes. Most recently, we instituted our hospitalist program to provide patients with a physician around the clock, which will result in better patient care, shorter length of stay and improved patient satisfaction.

We have hired more than 40 new nurses in just this year alone, thanks in no small part to a new contract with expanded benefits and competitive wages. Employee satisfaction continues to rise, with more than 95 percent of our employees agreeing or strongly agreeing that USC-VHH is a great place to work. Our Emergency Department also was the team recipient of the Choi Family Award for Excellence in Patient-Centered Care.

Our technology investments include the da Vinci Surgical System surgical robot, a high-intensity frequency ultrasound device and a Xenex disinfection robot for superbug infections, allowing us to expand our services and provide cutting-edge care.


What other changes are on the horizon?

We will open the doors of our neonatal intensive care unit by the end of the year and start our refresh of the labor and delivery department. We are expanding our surgical services at the hospital, providing the community with even more specialty care in their own backyard. And we soon will be adding a series of Women’s Health seminars to our roster of community events.

— Mary Dacuma