As COVID-19 Persists, Hospital Council Continues Work on Many Other Issues
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:
Significant efforts were made in 2020 to reduce the impact of PSPS on hospitals, and that’s why we have continued the improve upon the partnership with PG&E that was launched and cultivated last year.
Hospital Council meets every week with PG&E, with discussions focused on implementing mitigation strategies and planning for another PSPS season. Additional outreach with hospitals will continue in the coming months as we continue to address long-term power reliability for hospitals during PSPS. In addition, Hospital Council and CHA are scheduled to meet with the new PG&E CEO Patti Poppe next month to discuss continued PSPS solutions and how to ensure our hospitals have reliable power during these challenging times.
Although PSPS events are more commons in the warmer months, when recent weather conditions brought about the potential for PSPS and outages due to high winds, Hospital Council was able to provide timely communications to hospitals in affected counties. This is due, in large part, to PG&E understanding the havoc that unplanned outages can wreak on hospitals. As a result, the utility has gone to great efforts to provide detailed updates and information in a very timely manner.
While PSPS and other outages due in part to weather cannot always be prevented, the significant improvement in communication both prior to and during events has gone a long way toward allowing hospitals to plan earlier and with more accuracy.
At the same time, cybersecurity is even more important now as hospitals work to vaccinate patients and rely on their computer systems for nearly all facets of operations. Last fall, hackers began preying on the health care sector in record droves, targeting two Northern California hospitals. Find out more about how to safeguard patient care and protect operations during a Feb. 11 webinar, Ransomware and Emerging Cyber Threats, at which two hospitals will share what happened during ransomware attacks on their facilities and what they learned.
Hospital Council continues to monitor and engage with boards of supervisors and local governments on myriad issues. Some of the most impactful issues that Hospital Council has been involved with include:
- Vaccination Orders
- Testing Orders
- Surge Response
- Paid Leave
- School Testing/Vaccinations
- Ambulance Patient Offload Times
- Budget and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Funding
- Behavioral Health
Vaccine distribution remains a moving target, with a revised plan being announced just yesterday. While Hospital Council is hopeful that the move to a unified statewide approach to vaccination administration and management will simplify and standardize the process, the bottom line is that a greater and more consistent supply from the federal government is still needed to ensure people can be vaccinated as quickly as possible.
For hospitals that might still need to purchase ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers to store the vaccine, PG&E has added a $700 kicker to all new applications submitted with rebate codes RF006 and RF007.
Enhanced Rebate (w/Kicker)
EnergyStar ULT (15 to <24 cubic feet)
EnergyStar ULT (24 to 29 cubic feet)
To qualify for the rebate, the freezer must:
- Have an EnergyStar label
- Have doors mounted on a vertical hinge
- Be between 15 and 29 cubic feet
- Be capable of maintaining temperatures down to -80 degrees Celsius
- Be installed at an address that has a commercial account with PG&E
Find out where to buy an ULT freezer on the EnergyStar website.
Redwood Coast Section: In a conversation with the Emergency Medical Services Agency, county health department, Partnership Health Plan, and Hospital Council, Partnership agreed to offer inpatient Beacon (telepsychiatry) services to hospitalized non-county-care patients with behavioral health needs. This is a significant gain for patients with behavioral health needs who are hospitalized for a non-behavioral health reason, because it allows for continuity of care. It also provides an added layer of support to hospital staff in caring for specialized patient needs. An additional benefit of this service is consultation availability from a psychiatrist to assist treating physicians with medication management.
San Francisco Section: Hospital Council submitted a statement in advance of a special hearing called by the Board of Supervisors that was attended by University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, Sutter-CPMC, Dignity Health, and Kaiser Permanente. The hearing was held to inquire about vaccination planning across the health systems and the Department of Health (DPH).
The hospitals were unified in communicating overarching themes of collaboration between systems and DPH, comprehensive planning for future tiers of members/patients, and the constraints due to uncertainty of vaccine.
The supervisors were primarily focused on whether hospitals are sharing data, specific coordination with DPH to vaccinate San Francisco residents quickly and equitably, and — most importantly — the communication channels that will be used to ensure people know when and where to get vaccinated.
During the DPH presentation, staff repeatedly noted and expressed appreciation for the partnership with the hospitals.