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Hospitals — and the Lives Entrusted to Them — Are Indispensable

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Having worked with hospitals for more than 35 years, I’ve come to personally know thousands of leaders of these organizations. With few exceptions, they are — like yourselves — purpose-driven, selfless, and most of all, humble.  

It is anathema to many hospital leaders to be outspoken about their work, no matter how extraordinary or life-changing it is. But one week a year — during National Hospital Week, which concludes Saturday — there is a window where it is not only appropriate, but encouraged, to be loud and proud about the very special role hospitals play in their communities.  

This year, as the flood of COVID-19 continues to recede and we are finally able to assess the damage it has wrought, CHA hosted the first in-person opportunity in more than two years for hospital leaders to meet directly with legislators in Sacramento. My deepest thanks to all who were able to join us, bringing your personal stories to California’s policymakers. We are stronger together, and our voices are heard when we speak in unity.  

All told on May 9, on the grounds of the State Capitol, nearly 100 senior hospital leaders gathered with dozens of legislators. The purpose was twofold: First, to celebrate the unprecedented accomplishments of hospitals in response to the pandemic (an estimated more than 700,000 Californians’ lives were saved), and second, to ask for legislators’ help to rebuild, so hospitals can be there for the next crisis — whatever form that takes. 

In the 2022 legislative session, that help must come in two ways

These requests come at a time when there are three numbers that should instill considerable concern for legislators. The numbers — 51, 20, 12 — are figures that hospitals are coping with firsthand. 

Fifty-one refers to the 51% of hospitals that are now, in part due to COVID-19, operating with negative margins, losing money every day on the people they care for. 

Twenty is the revenue, in billions, that hospitals lost during the pandemic, a shocking amount and one that has thrown any long-term plans for health care delivery into upheaval. 

Twelve is the amount, in billions, that hospitals still lost — even when accounting for federal aid, a sign of the troubling depth of the care delivery challenges that lie ahead.  

May 8-14 is 2022’s National Hospital Week, but for the 40 million Californians who rely on hospitals 365 days a year, every moment is a reminder that hospitals are indispensable, as are the lives entrusted to your care.