The calendar may read January 2023, but in many ways, it feels like January 2022. Many hospitals are overwhelmed with patients — although, unlike in 2022 it’s not just COVID-19 but flu, RSV, and those with months of delayed care.
At the same time as your hospitals are seeing unprecedented patient volumes, the workforce shortages have not eased. There are simply not enough resources to replace the health care workers who have retired or left the field altogether as workforce shortages are leading to massive spikes in labor costs.
Many other challenges have followed us into 2023.
The financial struggles in the wake of COVID-19 and stagnant Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursements can be felt up and down the state — and are not likely to relent in 2023. Just a few weeks into the year we have already seen one hospital in the Central Valley close its doors, and it’s unlikely that it will be the last. The financial headwinds are strong, and the cavalry doesn’t appear to be coming. Unfortunately, the governor’s proposed budget, which he released last week, does not include any financial relief for hospitals. But CHA will be advocating for one-time financial support for hospitals to be included in the budget.
Like so many hospitals throughout California, ambulance patient offload times remain a challenge. Know that the factors that contribute to delays in offload times are many — including difficulties in discharging patients to lower levels of care, and patients seeking non-emergency care in the emergency department, and we continue to work with stakeholders to address these issues.
We continue to advocate on this issue with local leaders and at the Capitol, where a bill has been introduced that would set a statewide 20-minute standard 90% of the time — an arbitrary standard that does not take into account regional conditions and is not based on accurate data. And speaking of the Capitol … as the legislative session kicks into high gear in Sacramento — with many new Assembly members — this means a need for enhanced education and engagement from hospital leaders. At both the regional and state levels, advocacy has never been more important, and these strong relationships will be vital in the coming months as hospitals continue to engage with lawmakers and other officials on the many issues that are impacting your facilities.