Earlier this week, Hurricane Hilary — by then a tropical storm — struck Southern California, bringing record rainfall and widespread flooding from San Diego to Los Angeles and beyond. California hasn’t seen a tropical storm in 26 years, according to The Weather Channel.
Thankfully, there were no reported deaths in California, though emergency personnel did help avert tragedy when they rescued more than a dozen individuals who are experiencing homelessness from the San Diego River on Sunday night. Through this week, state and local officials were monitoring the potential for mudslides.
For California’s hospitals, the storm and the Ojai earthquake that hit shortly after were just the latest natural disasters in what is a perpetual state of readiness for any crisis.
As the storm was approaching, California hospitals worked closely with their community partners, participating in local command centers and coordinating communication efforts to ensure real-time status updates. When road closures created difficult conditions to get staff to hospitals, or home after their shifts, hospitals worked with local law enforcement and California Highway Patrol to assist in transportation. When the ferry to Catalina Island closed and stopped doctors and other workers from getting to the hospital, we asked the state to step in to clear the way.
Now, hospitals are preparing for potential mudslides and power losses and continue to work with their communities. One power failure required the safe transfer of several patients to other hospitals. Thanks to the neighboring hospitals for pitching in, as always, to help.
This is all in a day’s work for California hospitals. Under regulations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, National Fire Protection Association Standards, the Joint Commission, and Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations — hospital teams train constantly for disaster so that health care workers can respond quickly to keep people safe and provide continuous care no matter what happens.
Every California hospital has a comprehensive plan that identifies known and potential risks and outlines appropriate mitigation strategies. While this storm didn’t generate any acute emergencies for hospital care, its arrival reminds all of us, again, of the importance of vigilance, readiness, and the special role hospitals will always play when disasters strike.