On Dec. 21, at the request of Sonoma Valley Hospital CEO Kelly Mather, RVPs Meghan Hardin and T Abraham hosted a call with Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and CHA advocacy staff. Mather spoke about the critical need for amended 2030 seismic legislation for Sonoma Valley Hospital. If the legislation stands as is, the hospital will close. Such a move would cause significant upset to both patient care and the Sonoma County economy.
Assemblymember Levine is familiar with the plight of freestanding hospitals and received confirmation from Mather that, were it not for the 2030 guidelines, Sonoma Valley Hospital would be able to continue providing care to its community for the foreseeable future. Levine also spoke about the reasons that 2020 Senate Bill 758 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge) did not go to vote and what it would take to bring this legislation back. The call closed with general concurrence that hospitals will have multiple other priorities ahead of 2030 standards.
A similar call was hosted with Senators Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and Bill Dodd (D-Napa) on Dec. 17. Both senators asked probing questions, reinforcing the need for ongoing education on seismic legislation that CHA will introduce in 2021. Of interest to the senators was the fact that hospitals are safe (having met 2020 standards); the idea of prioritizing a bill that only emergency departments and critical services must meet the 2030 standards is sound; and that there are much better ways to spend health care dollars than on replacing existing structures.
On Dec. 18, Hospital Council convened a meeting of 14 north state hospital CEOs to update them on their status, coordinate surge response, and generate ideas for needed improvements. The story for many hospitals is the same. Staffing is the biggest issue, followed by an inability to transfer patients. Six very specific ideas for waivers for CHA to advocate for with the state were collected and forwarded for consideration, all concerning easing transfers to skilled-nursing facilities, in order to free up general acute care hospital resources.