Biweekly Briefing Articles

Strong Relationships Are Vital in Tackling Big Issues

Recently I reflected on the start of the year with a colleague and shared that January felt like it was 16 weeks long. We came barreling out of the gate in 2024 with far-reaching issues to grapple with. The list includes matters that touch almost every part of hospital operations, including preparing for the upcoming hospital minimum wage hike, advocating for reconsideration of health care spending targets proposed by the new Office of Health Care Affordability, strategizing with firefighters and emergency medical services in preparation for the implementation of Assembly Bill 40, advocating for resources to reduce migrant street releases, seeking solutions to the growing behavioral health crisis in our communities, and more.

Advocacy is essential at both the regional and state levels. These relationships are a network of support as hospitals continue to engage lawmakers and other officials on issues impacting your facilities. The foundation of our work, however, is the connection we maintain in local communities, with city and county elected officials and staff, community partners, health plans, and others.

We saw success late last year with the regional delay in implementation of Senate Bill (SB) 43. The new state law expands the definition of “gravely disabled” and would have caused considerable challenges for emergency departments. With our partners in the community, we achieved a delay until 2025 in San Diego County and 2026 in Imperial County. Delaying implementation will allow time for planning, education and training, and identification of resources needed once SB 43 goes into effect. This is the kind of accomplishment to build on. 

As we work together, we must focus on communicating about the many contributions of hospitals, which do not operate in a vacuum but are part of the community fabric. There are numerous ways to showcase this fact. For example, this spring we will release updated data showing labor income generated by hospitals and the tax impact on San Diego and Imperial counties, highlighting that hospitals truly are economic engines in our region.  We came out of the gate fast in 2024, but I am confident we will stay on track in the year ahead by placing the patient at the center of everything we do, continuing to build strong local and regional relationships, and communicating the extraordinary value hospitals bring to our communities.