In the throes of the current omicron surge, where hospitalizations are growing daily and the peak is still projected before the end of the month, it’s essential that state health leaders seriously consider every tool at their disposal to alleviate a treacherous gap between the number of Californians who need hospital care and the number of qualified staff available to provide that care.
Late last week, CHA held a statewide media briefing to share the “state of the state” of California’s hospitals ahead of the peak and lay out options that must be discussed with lives hanging in the balance — including temporary flexibility on nurse staffing ratios.
The Jan. 13 media call was attended by nearly 15 media outlets and provided a means to not only call for implementation of any and all necessary regulatory flexibilities, but also dispel several myths around the reasons for the current workforce challenges. Most importantly, CHA was able to make clear that the nationwide reduction of 20% of our health care workforce, coupled with unpredictable daily outages due to illness or caring for family members who are ill, are the driving forces behind shortages.
A sampling of coverage is below (audio clips from the press conference also aired multiple times on KNX1070 Radio in Los Angeles):
- The Sacramento Bee: ‘Buckle up:’ California hospitals expect overwhelming patient demand through February
- San Francisco Chronicle: California hospitals brace for tsunami of omicron patients. Will health system be ready?
- CalMatters: California hospitals predict COVID crisis will last 4-6 weeks
- Associated Press: Californians asked not to use strained ERs for virus testing
- Sacramento Business Journal: Hospitals face staffing crisis amid unprecedented explosion in new Covid cases
- San Jose Mercury News: California allowing COVID-positive health care workers to treat patients
- North Bay Business Journal: Californians asked not to use strained ERs for virus testing
- Lake County Record-Bee: California on track for worst COVID surge yet
- Coachella Valley Independent: The State’s Hospitals May Be Close to Collapse
In addition, CHA participated in four TV news interviews via Zoom last Friday:
- ABC 10: Californians asked not to use strained ERs for virus testing
- CBS 13: COVID Hospitalizations Reach Record Heights In Sacramento County
- NBC4 (Los Angeles)
- KTLA (Los Angeles)
These next several weeks will be pivotal for California’s health care system, with the Feb. 13 Super Bowl playing an unknown role in the trajectory of omicron’s spread following the peak at the end of January. (To help Californians preserve emergency care for those who truly need it, we are amplifying social media messages that educate and inform about appropriate ED use.)
We will continue to engage daily with state health officials to share with them what’s going on in your hospitals and the things that you need to care for those who arrive at your doors (regulatory flexibility, testing supplies, qualified federal and state personnel), and we will continue to make your voices heard before the media and the public to further advance these issues.
As the crisis continues, please know there is no wrong door for questions or help. Whatever your needs may be, reach out to me or a member of the CHA team or your Regional Association team, and we will get back with you quickly.
Stay safe, stay strong, and know that we are in this together.