CONTRA COSTA: Extends Emergency Health Status
County health officials in Contra Costa "will keep hospitals in the county on emergency status for at least another two weeks," the Contra Costa Times reports (Spears, 2/11). The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the "largely symbolic declaration" was originally issued two weeks ago to recognize "the shortage of critical care hospital beds" in the face of a strike by Kaiser nurses." The Chronicle reports that "[a]lthough the availability of hospital beds has increased, county supervisors decided yesterday to extend the health emergency in case this week's storms flood ambulance routes" (2/11). The move will allow county health officials to "pressure hospitals to take a range of steps, including putting employees on overtime and implementing their on-site disaster plans," the Contra Costa Times reports. County Health Director William Walker said while the shortage of intensive care beds has eased, "There are still days when it is tight." He said "[c]ontinuing the emergency status ... 'would keep the word out that we are not out of the crisis yet."
County supervisor Donna Gerber said that after offering resistance for more than a year, "the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California agreed Friday to provide detailed information on its emergency rooms," such as the "length of waiting times for different kinds of patients." The Contra Costa Times reports that "the county wants the data on emergency room performance and acute care to study whether" the county has "adequate health care" and to "measure the impact of hospital downsizing and consolidations." The council will consider whether the county has "enough emergency rooms and whether the county health systems can handle a crisis" (2/11).