Biweekly Briefing Articles

5 Things To Know: Fentanyl Awareness Day, Hospitals Needed For Performance Improvement Project, Base Station Hospital System And Trauma Center Catchment Area Designations Assessment, Covid-19 Data Reporting, Medi-Cal Scam Alert

FENTANYL AWARENESS DAY: People are dying at alarming rates due to illicit fentanyl, and May 9 is dedicated to raising awareness about this growing problem. Data from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office show that fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased 2,375% in San Diego County, from 33 in 2016 to at least 817 in 2021. In Imperial County, seizures of fentanyl increased 272% from fiscal year (FY) 2019 to the third quarter of FY 2022, from 40 pounds to 149 pounds. More information is available on the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency’s website

HOSPITALS NEEDED FOR PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: San Diego County Behavioral Health Services (BHS) is required to complete two Performance Improvement Projects (PIPs) per fiscal year, per system of care — mental health and drug Medi-Cal. UC San Diego’s Health Services Research Center (HSRC) partners with BHS to fulfill these evaluation requirements. Two of the current PIPs are aligned with these measures:  

  • Follow-Up After ED Visit for Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse or Dependence (FUA) 
  • Follow-Up After ED Visit for Mental Health Concern (FUM)  

HSRC has engaged three Medi-Cal managed care plans to participate in the project. The pilot project is designed to ultimately help to reduce emergency department utilization for mental health or substance use disorders by connecting patients to county services. The aim for both FUA and FUM is to increase the seven-day and 30-day follow-up rates by 5% by March 2024. If your hospital is interested in participating in these important projects or has any questions, please contact Naomi Hillery at  

BASE STATION HOSPITAL SYSTEM AND TRAUMA CENTER CATCHMENT AREA DESIGNATIONS ASSESSMENT: As part of the Comprehensive Evaluation of the Base Hospital System and Trauma Center Catchment Area Designations, the Public Consulting Group (PCG) team will conduct five In-person Listening Sessions in each of the county’s five supervisorial districts. They will be held May 23-25 and are open to the public; interested parties are encouraged to participate. Additional Virtual Listening Sessions will be held in the second and third week of June, and more information will be announced as these events are confirmed. In addition to the five In-Person Listening Sessions, the PCG team will ride along with San Diego County first responders and ambulance providers and observe the Base Station Hospital/Mobile Intensive Care Nurse process to gather real-world insights. The tentative schedule of the onsite engagement activities can be found online.   

COVID-19 DATA REPORTING: Hospitals should have received an email from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), notifying them of upcoming changes related to COVID-19 reporting. Soon after May 11, the reporting cadence to NHSN will change from daily to weekly. Values reported for each day of the previous week (Sunday–Saturday) must be submitted by the following Tuesday. In addition, the number of data elements to be reported will be reduced to 44. The CDC is hosting a replay of a guidance webinar on May 4 from noon–1 (PT) that will provide additional details. In addition, CHA has been working closely with the California Department of Public Health to eliminate the requirement for COVID-19 reporting at the state level. As a result, beginning on May 11, hospitals will no longer be required to report data to the CHA COVID Tracker (Smartsheet). Instead, hospitals will report data directly to the federal government through the NHSN COVID module. 

MEDI-CAL SCAM ALERT: The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is aware of scammers and bad actors nationwide contacting Medicaid members requesting a fee to help them apply for or renew their Medicaid coverage. Medi-Cal members in California are also being targeted. DHCS wants Medi-Cal members to know that a payment is never required during the application or renewal process. A toolkit is available for use in all outreach efforts. Stakeholders are reminded of the importance of educating Medi-Cal members about how they can expect to be contacted through legitimate sources. If there are questions, Medi-Cal members can work with their local community partners or contact their county Medi-Cal office.