California’s hospitals could have used a lighthouse earlier this month.
Storms raged across the state, causing at least 63 hospitals to suffer power outages, flooding, or other damage. Despite this torrent, hospitals stepped up and continued to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
And, in a way, hospitals became lighthouses of their own.
It takes a team to work through the storms like the ones California saw a few weeks ago. Hospital Council and the California Hospital Association worked with state leaders and utility companies to ensure hospitals remained open for patients. Hospital Council had direct contact with both the state’s and PG&E’s emergency operation centers.
Working through grueling conditions, PG&E often immediately addressed power issues by either quickly switching circuits or reconnecting downed lines. It took incredible skill for the linemen and women to navigate fallen trees, high winds, and seemingly never-ending rain.
Throughout the downpours, three themes became evident:
- These storms made it clear that hospitals play an essential role in the communities they serve. People needed hospitals to recharge their phones and medical equipment, as well as receive dialysis.
- The storms heightened the staffing challenges hospitals face. They’ve already been impacted by the tripledemic of COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus. Flooding, power outages, and fallen trees closed schools and made travel treacherous.
- Hospitals have learned to weather the storms. For the past several years they’ve strengthened relationships with PG&E and worked through public safety power shutoffs. Communication between hospital teams, and with PG&E, has only grown easier with familiarity.
These massive storms, lasting over a week, stretched hospitals thin during uncertain times. We’ve seen firsthand the financial hardships faced by hospitals and watched as one not just reduced services, but closed. Challenges, related to rain or rainy-day funds, will continue.
But that won’t stop hospitals from always being there for all Californians. We hope that our elected officials will be there for hospitals, ensuring that they’ll continue to shine a light through whatever storm may come.