I’m excited that thousands of athletes ages 7 to 18 — my cousin’s daughter included — are gathering this week in Sacramento for the 2022 USA Track & Field (USATF) National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships. USATF’s mission is to “drive competitive excellence and popular engagement … in a safe environment for all.” This mission statement reminded me in a really inspirational way of the work hospitals have always done in their communities, and the particular challenges they face today.
The Hospital Council Board of Directors met last week and discussed the significant legislative and regulatory challenges that remain for hospitals as the state budget has been passed and the legislative year heads into its final stages. In addition to reviewing the state budget, the board discussed strategy on the 2030 seismic standards, the newly created Office of Health Care Affordability, and the potential impact of health care minimum wage campaigns taking place in southern California.
Recent horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., have the country discussing and searching its soul once again about what can be done about gun violence. Even more concerning for our hospitals are the attacks at Tulsa’s St. Francis Hospital, where the shooter killed four people and then himself, and the stabbing of a doctor and two nurses at Southern California’s Encino Hospital. These incidents highlighted the vulnerability of our hospitals and health care facilities.
As I talk to many of you regularly about the issues hospitals face fulfilling their essential missions of care in their communities, the feeling I sense more than any other is frustration. Whether it is conflicting directives from state agencies or blame from a general public understandably exhausted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can feel like no one is listening to us as we express the very urgent need for policies that support, rather than undermine, the vital work hospitals perform.
After more than two-and-a-half years, I know we are all tired, exhausted, frustrated, and ready to put COVID-19 behind us. But although much of the public and many of our elected officials have moved on from the pandemic, choosing to get back to regularly scheduled activities and no longer considering this a health emergency, COVID-19 remains an issue that deeply impacts Californians and our hospitals. Nationwide, COVID-19 cases have been steadily rising over the past several weeks, and closer to home in the Bay Area is where you’ll find California’s worst case rate.
Earlier this week, the Hospital Council and CHA teams had the opportunity to connect with a number of members during a legislative event on the state Capitol grounds. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend — it was a rare opportunity to get members and legislators under one roof (in this case a tent) for a chance to discuss the challenges facing hospitals and hear from California’s senators and Assembly members. It’s been a long time since many of us have gathered together for an in-person event, and it couldn’t come at a more important time.
Earlier this week, members from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., for the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Annual Meeting. It was a chance to hear from top policymakers and elected officials, catch up with colleagues from across the country, and discuss key issues impacting the field. No surprise, but workforce was one of the leading concerns of attendees and is at the top of AHA’s advocacy efforts.
First, came the pandemic: The grueling hours, the death and suffering, the sadness.
For any college basketball fan, there’s no time like late March. The NCAA Tournament is in full swing, and with any luck your team is still in the hunt — and at the very least your bracket is still relatively intact.
Last week, we met with leaders from across the western states to discuss the impacts of the pandemic and where we go from here. While the issues California hospitals are facing are certainly not unique to our state, we are looked to as a model for the coordinated communication, advocacy, and strategies utilized during the pandemic — and as we navigate the post-pandemic waters.