As we approach the holidays, the combination of rising COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections continue to place significant strain on Southern California hospitals. As we’ve experienced in the last couple of years, travel, gatherings and holiday festivities threaten to further exacerbate the challenges our hospitals face. Recent downturns in RSV cases provide some hope; however, we continue to contend with two other potent respiratory illnesses.
Despite the looming trio of respiratory illnesses, I’m encouraged by the resilience our hospitals have demonstrated during what feels like a never-ending cycle of hurdles. Hospitals have been dealt blows that have impacted finances, workforce, operations and more — yet, their workforce and leadership continue to embody the mission of caring for their communities during extreme hardship.
I’m further encouraged by some significant accomplishments we’ve notched together this year:
- After months of lobbying city councils, filing referenda, engaging in litigation and other activities by the HASC team, nine of 10 $25 minimum wage measures have either been defeated outright or delayed until the 2024 ballot. One of two measures on November’s ballot was defeated. Four measures have been confirmed for the March and November 2024 ballots, three cities have taken no action, and the Culver City Council rejected an ordinance to establish a minimum wage requirement.
- HASC, along with the South Bay Workforce Investment Board and Southeast Los Angeles Workforce Development Board, received $500,000 to train and place 75 individuals from underserved communities in urgently needed positions at member hospitals.
- HASC continued providing a forum for hospital leaders to directly dialogue with Emergency Medical Services (EMS), hospital leaders, and state and county public health departments on disease conditions and response efforts in the field. Topics have included COVID-19, flu, RSV, mpox and other communicable viruses that significantly impact the region’s health care delivery system.
- In collaboration with members and involved stakeholders, we completed our Pandemic Response and Emergency Planning (PREP) Report project. The report draws from a broad range of perspectives to more fully understand the extraordinary challenges that emerged over the course of the pandemic, identify unique and best practices, and develop meaningful and actionable recommendations for cross-industry preparedness for future emergencies. We’re sharing those recommendations with key stakeholders this week, and we will work to support their implementation in 2023.
While the complete list of our shared achievements is much longer, I’m inspired by our hospitals’ ability to manage day-to-day adversity while simultaneously investing in long-term strategies to fortify Southern California’s health care delivery system. It is a privilege and honor to work alongside such an exceptional group of health care leaders.
Today marks the winter solstice, which provides an opportunity to reflect on our journeys throughout the past year, and to begin realizing our next steps as we enter a new year. I encourage you to pause and take in the good things that come this time of year — family time, good food, beautiful weather, and the reassuring nourishment that accompanies this season of wonder.
Happy holidays, and may you enjoy hope and cheer in 2023 and beyond.
Take care and stay safe.