On Monday, after nearly two years of many of us working from home, the One Team — which includes HASD&IC and CHA along with the other Regional Associations — traded in our sweatpants and slippers for slacks and dress shoes, and formally returned to in-person work.
More signs of “normalcy” are also evident throughout the state, as was evidenced by Gov. Newsom’s recent announcement of the SMARTER plan and the relaxing of many mask mandates — including Monday’s announcement on school guidelines. These are more indications that we are shifting from a pandemic to an endemic and a virus that we must learn to live with.
While the governor’s SMARTER plan uses the lessons of the past two years to prepare for future COVID-19 surges or variants and marks a move to the next phase, it’s also a clear acknowledgment that the virus is here for the foreseeable future, and we must continue to treat, mitigate, and persevere through the continued issues it brings. Among other things, the SMARTER plan acknowledges the need for flexibility during future surges and emergencies and the need to ensure health care facilities have the right tools and resources to respond to minimize the strain on our health care systems.
Although we are clearly moving forward in many aspects of our everyday lives, we do know that the pandemic isn’t necessarily over for your hospitals, and the governor’s plan won’t automatically resolve all the lingering impacts from the pandemic. That’s why CHA and the Regional Associations continue to communicate with state and local leaders. Just last week, Gov. Newsom signed an executive order extending two key temporary flexibilities that make it possible for your hospitals to retain out-of-state staff and temporary flexed spaces like emergency department triage tents (and more) for hospitals until June 30. These important waivers, which were set to expire March 31, allow for the continuation of the:
- Emergency Medical Services Authority waiver to approve the use of out-of-state health care personnel
- California Department of Public Health space waiver in All Facilities Letter 20-26.11
With the waning of the pandemic, we can focus more on issues beyond COVID-19, including the health care workforce, ambulance patient offload times, and behavioral health — long-standing problems that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19.
We are also looking ahead and looking forward to gathering together in the fall.
Planning is currently under way for the HASD&IC annual meeting on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PT) at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego. Please save the date for this year’s in-person event — program, registration, and sponsor details will be forthcoming. We look forward to seeing you there!