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Kirk Kirkpatrick photo 

Napa High senior Malia Blackmon, left, and junior Jane McLoughlin hope to avenge last month's 50-48 loss to crosstown rival Vintage on Friday night.


Local
Business
St. Helena hospital outsources 200 jobs to national firm

Citing a need to increase efficiency and innovation, Adventist Health St. Helena has outsourced 200 jobs to Cerner, a health care technology company based in Missouri.

Those 200 employees were part of the hospital’s revenue cycle and clinical applications teams — those who work on patient billing — according to hospital spokesperson Jill Kinney.

The decrease in jobs represents a 17.6 percent decline in staff. The hospital, located in Deer Park just outside St. Helena, now employs 936 people compared to 1,136 before the change, officials said.

Cerner hired all 200 staffers at comparable pay and benefits to what they earned as hospital employees, said Kinney.

“We’re glad the same people will still be working with us,” said Kinney. “They are still part of our family.”

The new Cerner employees remain at their same job locations on the St. Helena hospital campus, said Kinney.

When asked how much the hospital would save by transitioning the jobs to Cerner, Kinney said she didn’t have a number readily available.

“It’s not a cost-savings initiative,” said Kinney. “It’s about working more efficiently (and) speeding up innovation.”

Kinney said the last time the hospital made such a change was years ago when the facilities department was outsourced, and that was “not to this extent.”

As of this week, “We don’t have any other areas under consideration,” for such outsourcing, she added.

The latest outsourcing was announced on Jan. 4 and implemented over about a two-week period, Kinney said.

“Adventist Health and Cerner have a longstanding strategic alignment and shared goal to further improve the quality of care and the patient experience using technology and more coordinated services,” said a news release.

“This expanded partnership helps to create a seamless experience in a patient’s entire health journey, and positions us to innovate quickly and at scale so that our mission can continue to grow and benefit our communities,” said Scott Reiner, Adventist Health’s chief executive officer.

Kinney said the change was well received. “We’ve been working with Cerner for years,” she noted. The company was already providing the platform used for the technology behind the electronic medical records system used by St. Helena Hospital.

“We are committed to working together to help Adventist Health advance its care transformation journey,” said Jeff Townsend, executive vice president and chief of staff for Cerner.

“We also have an opportunity to create an even more dynamic workforce where associates feel empowered to generate new ideas and innovate new ways of doing things.”

“We are excited to take this next step forward together as we continue to improve patient outcomes with a clinically‐driven revenue cycle,” said Zane Burke, president of Cerner.


Local
Competition
Using algorithms and muscle memory, Napa teen does lightning-fast 'speedcubing'

One second makes all the difference in the world to Tristan Heartt of Napa.

Heartt, 14, is a competitive “speedcuber.”

Using what’s commonly called a Rubik’s Cube, Heartt tries to solve the multi-sided puzzle as fast as he can. To this ninth grader, that means in less than 15 seconds.

Speedcubing “is really fun,” said Heartt.

“It’s so satisfying to get better,” said the New Technology High School student.

Heartt said he received his first Rubik’s Cube as gift, but didn’t immediately take to the puzzle.

“It sat on my shelf, unsolved,” he admitted.

But after hearing that the world record for solving such a cube had recently been broken at a speedcubing competition, Heartt was inspired to try again.

“I wanted to do that,” he said. “I wanted to go and place in a competition.”

Studying videos on YouTube, he found speedcubing strategies and methods.

It took many, many hours of practice, but soon his times began to get faster and faster.

“Now I’m always improving and getting personal bests,” he said.

His most recent “personal best” was a mere 14.64 seconds. While barely more than one second from his previous best, 15.12 seconds, every tenth “definitely” counts, said Heartt.

The current world record for solving a cube is 4.59 seconds, he said.

Technically, the Rubik’s Cube has 43 quintillion combinations.

“That’s 43 with a lot of zeros after it,” explained Heartt.

How on earth can a person solve a cube so quickly?

Using a combination of practice and muscle memory and memorizing algorithms — a sequence of moves — to get the pieces in the right order at the right time, he said.

Algorithms are usually eight to 15 moves. Some speedcubers will memorize up to 77 different algorithms using cryptic-looking abbreviations such as F’ U L’ U’ or U R U’ Ri U’ F’ U F. Heartt has memorized about 40 such patterns.

Heartt said there are other techniques he can use to improve his times. For example, “There’s something called ‘look ahead.’”

That’s when a cuber physically performs one set of moves while mentally plotting the next set of moves at the same time.

Going to competitions, like regional events in Sacramento, Berkeley and Hayward, is another motivator, he said.

To place in a competition, a speedcuber has to solve the cube in about six seconds, he said.

Heartt’s goal is to become a sub-10 solver, or finish a cube in 10 seconds or less.

He thinks he can do it. “I just need to work on it. And memorize more algorithms.”

Speedcubing is a good fit for his personality, said the high school freshman.

“I fidget a lot,” he admitted. “I like something to do with my hands. I’m solving a cube one-handed right now,” he said, during a recent phone interview. “I use my left hand,” to turn the cube one handed, he noted.

Does all of this speedcubing practice distract him from his schoolwork?

Not really, said Heartt. “I’m getting good enough grades.”

His parents don’t mind. In fact, they support his hobby.

“It’s a good outlet,” said his father, Kyle Heartt. “We’re proud of his hard work and the focus that it takes.”

“It’s just amazing,” the father said.

Of course, “The clicking and clacking can be a little distracting depending on the time and situation,” his father said.

“It’s crazy” how fast his son can solve the cube.

J.L. Sousa, Register 

A collection of speed cubes that belong to New Technology High School student Tristan Heartt.

Tristan Heartt also customizes his cubes to make his spinning even faster. First, he uses silicon lubricant to “oil” the spinning mechanism. Then, he installs mini magnets inside each square on the cube to help make the cube more stable while turning it.

“The magnets prevent undershooting and overshooting,” he said. He also improves his dexterity by doing “finger tricks” to move the sides of the cube quickly but only with a single finger.

One of his favorite cube models is called the Moyu Weilong that costs about $20.

“I did research on it,” Heartt said. “I saw what the top cubers were using.”

Of course, sometimes speedcubing can hit speed bumps. Like two weeks ago when one of his favorite cubes was stolen while at school.

At first, Heartt felt panicked – he had a competition that weekend. But he was able to order a replacement, which arrived in time for Heartt to break it in.

While this teenager continues to whittle down his “solve” times, he also hopes to set up a speed cubing club at school or get others interested in the game.

“It’s really fun and everybody can do it,” he said.


Local
Criminal Courts
Jury finds American Canyon man guilty of 38 counts of child sexual abuse

A 43-year-old American Canyon man accused of molesting two female relatives under the age of 14 was convicted of 38 counts of child sexual abuse in Napa County Superior Court on Thursday.

Following a week-and-a-half-long trial, a jury found Miguel Segura Roman guilty of three counts of sex with a child 10 or younger, three counts of sexual penetration of a child 10 or younger, and 32 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under age 14.

The jury also found several special allegations to be true, including allegations that Roman personally inflicted great bodily injury on a child under 14 years of age, committed specified crimes against more than one victim, and that the defendant engaged in substantial sexual conduct with a child.

“We are so grateful to the jury for helping the victims, and our community achieve justice,” Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley said Thursday in a press release. “This case was unlike any other.”

“The bravery of these victims will never cease to amaze and inspire us,” she said. “This verdict will ensure that the defendant will never be able to harm them or any other child ever again.”

Roman was arrested for the abuse on Nov. 26, 2013 after it was revealed that one of the minors became pregnant, according to court documents. Since his arrest, he has been held in custody of the Napa County jail on $1,250,000 bail.

Roman faces a sentence of life in prison, Haley said.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 12.


Local
Aesthetics
Unincorporated Napa to get self-storage facility and cell tower

Appearance mattered to the Napa County Planning Commission for a proposed self-storage facility near a Napa Valley gateway and a proposed 70-foot-tall cell tower at a rural golf course.

The commission on Wednesday decided these two projects won’t hurt local views. Commissioners granted approvals during that rare meeting when they had no winery growth issues to tackle.

Ryan Smith proposed constructing a self-storage facility on 7 acres along Devlin Road near Sheehy Court in the airport industrial area. The site is adjacent to Highway 29 and readily visible to drivers about the enter wine country.

Smith said his company tries to focus on what the public will see. The four buildings totaling 105,099 square feet will have such features as stone veneers, multiple heights and a tower. The property will be landscaped.

“That way when you’re driving down Highway 29, it’s appealing to the eye, it’s not just a self-storage facility,” he said.

Commissioner Terry Scott noted that the county has approved other self-storage facilities.

“In my opinion, this one raises the bar in terms of architectural quality and the sensitivity of the vision from Highway 29, which is the entrance to our city,” Scott said.

And commissioners said they thought the self-storage facility will be built in the right place – the airport industrial area.

“This is precisely what this area is meant to hold and the development we’re interested in seeing in this zone … clearly this is something that is needed,” Commissioner Jeri Hansen said.

Smith said his Auburn-based family business has built 18 self-storage facilities, mostly in Northern California. It recently completed a project in Morgan Hill.

The commission also approved the 70-foot-tall telecommunication tower proposed by Verizon on a hill at the Napa Valley Country Club golf course. This 97-acre property is located at 3385 Hagen Road about 1.5 miles east of the city of Napa.

The tower will be disguised as a pine tree. In photo simulations, it was hard to see from nearby roads.

“Really, the renderings do show that it is almost unnoticeable,” Commissioner Jeri Hansen said.

Golf Course General Manager Jeanne Johnston sent a letter to the county requesting approval. She wrote that the golf course has many Verizon dead zones.

“The safety, productivity and enjoyment of our members and their guests, many of whom spend most of their days here, are predicated on a ubiquitous indoor and outdoor wireless voice and data services,” she wrote.

More than 300 golf club members, guests and neighbors signed a petition asking for the cell tower.

“I believe this is an area that has been devoid of cell coverage for some time,” Commissioner Michael Basayne said. “In case of an emergency, to have cell coverage is very important.”

Hansen used the October wildfires as an example. The Atlas Fire burned just to the east of the Napa Valley Country Club. One way the county communicates with residents during emergencies is by Nixle cellphone alerts.


J.L. Sousa, Register 

Andy Beckstoffer, left, is the founder and chief executive office of Beckstoffer Vineyards with his son, David Beckstoffer, who is president and chief operating officer.