About Emergency Preparedness
It’s time to change the way California thinks about disaster response. The state must draw on the lessons of COVID-19 to prepare differently for disasters, so that the next large crisis will be less severe and less deadly.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that hospitals can quickly mobilize to put in place emergency preparedness plans and use flexible approaches to care for patients with the greatest needs during a disaster. In the case of COVID-19, hospitals rapidly converted spaces to create more ICU beds to care for surges of COVID-19 patients, redeployed staff, and utilized other staffing strategies to provide care to critically ill patients.
Given California’s size and complexity, the health care disaster response system of the future must be nimble enough to respond at any given moment to a regional catastrophe or something larger.
PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFFS: San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) is conducting two public safety power shutoff (PSPS) exercises and welcomes the attendance and participation of external stakeholders:
PSPS Tabletop Exercise: April 11, 8 a.m.-noon
PSPS Full-Scale Exercise: May 1-2
If you are interested in participating, please complete the Extent of Play Agreement and email a PDF copy to EMTrainingExercise@sdge.com. If you are interested in scheduling a tour for your organization, please reach out to EmergencyServices_SDGE@sdge.com
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HUB: Last week, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan for a less-expensive behavioral health facility at Alvarado Hospital Medical Center. When it opens in late 2023, the Central Regional Behavioral Health Hub will feature 44 new acute inpatient beds and a crisis stabilization unit. The county is also looking at other opportunities to expand other continuum capacities at sites such as the Rosecrans and Parcel/Third Avenue psychiatric facilities. Under the plan, Alvarado Hospital is the license holder/operator; UCSD will provide medical direction, clinical oversight, and clinical training capacity; and the county will be the capital investor, staffer, and payer. Plans call for investing capital in the project with expectations that future capacity will increase to 60 beds total.
The discussion will be continued at future Board of Supervisors meetings. On Sept. 27, Luke Bergmann, PhD, behavioral health services director for San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency, will present an analysis of the urgent needs of different service areas (post-acute and long-term care). On Oct. 11, Dr. Bergmann will present a report on concrete action to expand capacity in identified areas.
During times of extreme weather, California power companies recommend residents have a disaster preparedness plan in place in the event power must be shut off for safety reasons. Medical baseline programs enable patients who depend on power for certain medical conditions and independent living needs to lower energy rates and, most importantly, receive advance notice of public safety power shutoffs to their residence.
MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES: A reminder that monoclonal antibodies are available for early treatment of COVID-19 in both San Diego and Imperial counties. More information, including treatment sites and how to refer patients, is available for San Diego County and Imperial County providers. In addition, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is requesting that providers complete by Dec. 3 an updated survey to help understand how frequently monoclonal antibodies are being used at health care facilities (both for treatment and as post-exposure prophylaxis). This information will be used to ensure that CDPH adequately addresses supply, education, and/or resource gaps. The updated survey includes new questions to reflect the evolving landscape of distribution. Health care facilities are encouraged to complete the survey, even if they completed it previously.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: HASD&IC President & CEO Dimitrios Alexiou joined health care leaders from UCSD, Scripps Health, and Sharp HealthCare at the Aug. 31 meeting to provide testimony (starts at 3:22) in support of the proposal to declare health misinformation a public health crisis. After more than 15 hours of debate and more than 250 public speakers who spoke in opposition, the board voted 3-2 to approve the measure. Board Chair Nathan Fletcher said the action makes San Diego County the first in the nation to call medical misinformation a public health crisis. This meeting came on the heels of the Aug. 17 Board of Supervisors meeting in which the board was met with public outcry when hundreds protested the COVID-19 guidelines released by the county and health officials. More than 100 speakers addressed the supervisors during public comment to express their opposition to recommendations that call for people to wear masks indoors and for businesses to require employee vaccinations or regular COVID-19 testing.
Tabletop Exercise: HASD&IC and several hospital members participated in the 2021 San Diego Regional Tabletop Exercise on July 27. Over 125 participants took part, including representatives from:
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Address Medi-Cal Managed Care: Lask week, HASD&IC President & CEO Dimitrios Alexiou provided public comment (testimony starts at 4:08) in support of the Framework for the Future: Improving the County’s Wellness Care Delivery System to Address Health Disparities Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic and shared the HASD&IC Board of Directors guiding principles for new Medi-Cal managed care contracts. He emphasized the importance of using this opportunity to prioritize patients, strengthen local oversight, and increase accountability. HASD&IC will continue to engage with supervisors on the Medi-Cal managed care procurement process.
Addressing Chronic Homelessness: On June 28, the first phase of a partnership between the City and County of San Diego launched, with outreach teams hitting the streets to address the immediate and long-term challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. This month-long outreach campaign is designed to connect individuals to immediate shelter, housing navigation and behavioral health services, and medical care. The second phase, scheduled to launch in August, will address the struggle of those who experience chronic homelessness with severe substance use disorder. It will connect them with teams who can link them to health and social services, including specialized temporary housing, regardless of the status of their sobriety.