On Oct. 28, all hospital leaders representing Humboldt and Del Norte counties attended the final Redwood Coast Section meeting for 2020. The primary focus was obtaining member input on the section’s strategic direction for 2021 and discussing the impacts of the pandemic on their hospitals to date and going forward.
The pandemic has had a huge financial impact on hospitals, causing some to focus for the next couple of years on cost reduction vs. growth and expansion. There are also challenges in offering the same quality of services with less operational revenue. Additionally, COVID-19 has increased focus on behavioral health issues. Humboldt County is hoping the county or state will step up with an expansion of psychiatric beds. Hospitals feel behavioral health issues are getting worse, with many experiencing daily troubling events in their emergency departments with no place to transfer behavioral health patients.
Loss of commercial payers, reduced demand for services, the added costs of COVID-19 testing, social distancing, and more are creating challenges. For some, concerns related to meeting the 2030 seismic requirements also remain. Many want to see far less regulation overall from the county and state. Staffing also remains an issue for many. In some urban areas, job candidates are looking for work in some of the COVID-19-free rural areas. In many cases, those candidates experience a lack of housing availability and then decline hospital positions.