Hospitals, state agencies, PG&E
On Aug. 18, hospital CEOs in the north state met to share challenges and strategies for addressing them. At that time, Seneca Hospital in Chester was closed due to the Dixie fire and, thankfully, reopened its emergency department (ED) on Aug. 21. Plumas District Hospital also was forced to close briefly but has since reopened. It is evident that the current COVID-19 surge has hit the rural north state hard and, in many ways, harder than in previous surges. Cases are up — in many places higher than ever during the pandemic — while staffing is down because of retirements, positive tests, displacement due to wildfires, and the lack of traveler nurses. While all the hospitals have tried creative ways (bonuses, raffles, education, and more) to encourage vaccination, staff rates are lower than anyone would like. This is especially true in smaller hospitals, where if even a handful choose not to vaccinate by the Sept. 30 deadline, there will be significant challenges for hospitals to deliver care to their communities. There has been some good news related to public safety power shutoffs, as one occurred recently with minimal impact overall on hospitals. There was clear evidence that PG&E is prioritizing keeping the power on at hospitals. This is quite helpful, as hospitals do not need the strain of additional challenges.
It is clear from recent events that state agencies and PG&E are much better positioned to respond quickly and effectively in times of emergency. Hospital Council will continue to meet with PG&E weekly to ensure continued progress and will resume meeting every other week with hospital CEOs, with a focus on meeting the challenges of COVID-19.