Hospital Council – Northern & Central California and the
California Hospital Association (CHA) are working together to
support our member hospitals and health systems in responding to
the coronavirus pandemic. Hospital Council staff continue to work
on issues prevalent in their regions, such
as county-specific testing orders and supply chain
challenges. Key to this work is a set of resources and
continually updated information, available at www.calhospital.org/coronavirus.
Below you’ll find Hospital Council-specific updates from our
President & CEO, Bryan J. Bucklew.
Earlier this week, as we do every year, the nation paused to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers and specifically the legacy and ongoing work of the nation’s labor unions. This year, more than ever, our health care workers deserve recognition for their continued efforts to safeguard our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outstanding care teams at California hospitals are again dealing with the relentless COVID-19 as both positivity and hospitalization rates continue to increase. As we have seen with three previous surges over the past 18 months, without quick, decisive, and compassionate intervention, many Californians will become infected, hospitalized, and potentially lose their lives because of this virus.
If you were in Northern California last Thursday, there’s a good chance you felt the 6.0-magnitude earthquake, whose epicenter was south of Lake Tahoe. Many of our member hospitals did as well, and within 30 minutes our RVPs had connected with 37 hospitals to get status updates; within 90 minutes, RVPs had been in touch with over 100 hospitals.
For more than 15 months, while most of the state, and the country, hunkered down — created home offices, studied via Zoom, and ordered takeout dinners to avoid the potential for COVID-19 infection — your hospitals were on the front lines, each and every day. While many retreated, you confronted the pandemic head-on.
In the midst of a health care crisis, people often turn to hospitals for help — whether it’s during a pandemic, for a behavioral health problem, or any number of other kinds of emergencies.
Such is the case with the recent closure of 29 Lags Medical Centers, which operate high-volume pain management clinics in California. Because of those closures, some of your emergency departments may see high numbers of patients needing prescription refills.
The recent warm-up in temperatures, along with a few gusty days, serve as a good reminder of what’s to come. And just like in the past few years, it’s not a matter of if — but when — hospitals will experience a summer of fire conditions followed by autumn public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) during high-risk weather conditions.
Hospitals are the backbone of the communities they serve and are there to provide care to all who need it, no matter the time or day of the week. And never have hospitals been more vital than throughout the pandemic. While we have always known that hospitals are critically important to our communities and to the state, the pandemic clearly showed just how important effective leadership and outstanding care are during a disaster.
The pandemic that has consumed the country — the world — for more than a year has come with a hefty psychological toll for many, especially hospital staff and front-line health care workers. They’ve been working non-stop to care for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Staff burnout is real, and it’s been the topic of many recent discussions with hospital leaders. As we inch toward the finish line and start to contemplate a post-pandemic landscape, we need to keep our health care workers top of mind.
Hospitals have been on the front lines of this pandemic since the beginning, through the multiple surges and now, leading the vaccine distribution while continuing to provide care for ALL patients. As you have navigated some very challenging circumstances, it’s been an honor and privilege for CHA and the three Regional Associations (One Team) to support you.
Through every tragedy, hospitals have been there to aid the sick and the injured. They’re open 24/7/365 — often the first stop for someone who is ill or the last stop for those who have not received the care they need.
If COVID-19 has done anything, it’s shone the spotlight on the fact that hospitals intrinsically put others first. Their workers are selfless, compassionate, devoted. Their doors are wide open to all who need help. But now, more than a year into the pandemic, it’s the hospitals that need help.
The calendar may say March, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about wildfire season — and public safety power shutoffs (PSPS). But in fact, when it comes planning for PSPS, Hospital Council’s and CHA’s teams have never stopped working on this issue as we continue to refine and improve our partnership with PG&E. For example, PSPS events continued at their near record pace in 2020, and we had PSPS events that lasted into December and even January of this year — a very concerning trend.
Grief, anger, exhaustion, frustration — COVID-19 has been about so many different things for so many people. For hospitals — and their front-line workers — as many are well aware, it’s been about saving lives. Put simply, it’s been about “doing the right thing.”
At the first Hospital Council board meeting of the year, that was the clear consensus among board members. But as many of you have discovered throughout the course of the past year, often it’s been “so hard to do the right thing.”
When the Hospital Council board of directors meets on Friday, COVID-19 will — naturally — dominate much of the discussion. But in addition to COVID-19, public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) and cybersecurity remain critically important, and Hospital Council RVPs continue to advocate for members on local issues.
Here’s a look at some of the issues that Hospital Council is currently working on:
Although the vaccine may be helping to turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Hospitalizations have started to level off in some parts of the state and counties are slowly reopening, but other regions remain teetering on the brink and are faced with the prospect of having to implement crisis standards of care.
While we had hoped that a new year would bring some relief, many of the issues and concerns that hospitals faced early in the pandemic and through the holiday season have followed them into the beginning of 2021.
Think back, if you can, to last New Year’s Eve. 2020 was just on the horizon — bringing with it, as most new years do, hope and promise.
And for a very short time, it seemed like 2020 would be just like any other year. Then March came and, seemingly overnight, the state ground to a halt. By April, it appeared the state had “flattened the curve” on infections. At that time, it would have been hard for any of us to imagine that nearly a year later we’d still be struggling to contain it.
Good communication is key to so much of our daily lives and success in work and relationships. Without effective communication, a message can turn into error, misunderstanding, frustration, or more — lessons that we have all likely learned the hard way.
The above quote and picture came from our daughter, Zoey, eight-and-a-half years ago. In preparation for Thanksgiving, Zoey’s preschool teacher asked each student what they were thankful for and wrote their answers down on the sharing board for the parent program. When our family saw this quote, it immediately became our favorite Thanksgiving memory.
In a year that has uprooted our lives, brought so much heartache and devastation, and left us with so many questions, it’s not likely even the late “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek would have had the correct answers. While we don’t know all of the answers surrounding the multitude of health care issues — COVID-19, Affordable Care Act, etc. — we certainly know the questions that our hospital members and the people who depend on our care have for the newly elected.
At last Thursday’s board meeting, a new slate for the Board of Directors was installed. The board, which is the governing body of the Hospital Council and is responsible for the ultimate direction of the management of the affairs of the organization, includes:
With the 2019-2020 legislative session behind us, it’s time to breathe a brief sigh of relief. We can — and should — take a moment to relish the accomplishments over the past months, and in the recently concluded legislative session:
“Meet this moment.” It’s a phrase that for months Gov. Newsom has
been uttering during his press conferences and regular COVID-19
updates. And while he has at times taken flack on social media
for what may be considered by some to be overused, it’s safe to
say that it’s a fitting phrase for this time.
Just like Californians have “met this moment” by social
distancing, staying at home, wearing masks, etc., your hospitals
have more than “met this moment” and will continue to do so in
the months to come. And at the Hospital Council, it’s our job to
support you in any way that we can.
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