CONTRA COSTA: Debate Continues Over Hospital Readiness
Contra Costa supervisors repeated their request Tuesday for hospital staffing and bed availability data in an effort to calculate hospitals' preparedness for emergencies, the Contra Costa Times reports. The study, which was initiated after a 1998 flu outbreak that left hospitals stretched beyond capacity, has been stalled by hospitals' reluctance to submit the information demanded. Although hospitals have provided afternoon patient censuses and bed availability data, Supervisor Donna Gerber "contends that the number of beds means nothing" unless sufficient staff are available, implying a need for staffing level information as well. County Health Chief William Walker advised obtaining a midnight census of hospital beds, as its figures are more "uniform [and] precise." Lynn Baskett, regional vice president of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, agreed with Walker, noting that bed quantity presents a more accurate sense of hospital capacity than staffing levels, as extra staff can be added during crises. In a compromise, supervisors have voted to request both afternoon and midnight hospital reports, which would be submitted voluntarily. Baskett noted, however, that as hospitals favor supplying midnight census information, she doubted they would agree to providing afternoon data as well (Spears, Contra Costa Times, 5/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.