There is no way to sugarcoat this, nor should we: California’s hospitals are in the middle of a full-blown crisis.
COVID-19 cases are hitting new heights every day (more than 50,000 on Wednesday), hospitalizations for COVID-19 this week topped 16,000, and ICU capacity is rapidly dwindling (it was less than 2% in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley this week) due to shortfalls of critical care nurses.
The state projects the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals will double in a month’s time.
Amid this, negotiations with the state on immediate actions that can be taken to ameliorate the situation continue, with some important progress made earlier this week. Recall that on Dec. 13, CHA formally asked the state for immediate help in four areas: supplies, coordination, hospital decompression, and regulatory flexibility. Below is an update on where those requests stand as of Thursday:
- Two mobile liquid oxygen tanks from the National Guard can be available to any hospital within 12 hours, and more rapidly available oxygen concentrators will be distributed throughout the state in short order.
- The state is exploring being able to share with CHA lists of the resources requested by hospitals of their MHOACS so we have a shared understanding of emerging trends and stockpile needs.
- The state is prioritizing hospitals’ use of its new Valencia Branch Lab for testing. The state has also added a new tool to simplify the process for hospitals and other collection sites to use.
- The state has 163 million gloves in stock, the majority of which are nitrile.
- Negotiations continue on discontinuation, or significant refocusing, of the state’s use of its vendor All-Access Transfer Center for patient transfers for hospital decompression; follow-up meetings are scheduled in the coming days.
- State leaders are beginning to message to the public about the state’s crisis care guidelines to prepare them that these may be used at some point.
- The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues to work directly with skilled-nursing facilities to encourage them to accept hospital admissions and to engage directly with local health departments to coordinate any local limitations on admissions.
- CDPH has indicated that it is receptive to discussing expedited nurse staffing ratio waivers for team nursing models.
Given the projections and the breakneck pace of the increase in cases and hospitalizations, it’s critical that the state act quickly on these issues and more. We continue these conversations daily, and sometimes multiple times in a single day. As soon as we know more, we will share that information.
Our bottom-line message to the state right now: This is crunch time, and we’re in this together. Let’s act quickly to help California’s hospitals remain ready to care for all in need.