CONTRA COSTA: Officials Want Extension Of Emergency Status
Contra Costa County Supervisors Donna Gerber and Mark DeSaulnier will ask the county board of supervisors to extend the "state of emergency for all nine hospitals in the county" for an additional two weeks, the Contra Costa Times reports. The hospitals were originally placed on emergency status January 27 when a "widespread flu outbreak compounded by several emergency room closures" left hospitals "filled to capacity." Under the emergency declaration, county officials are permitted to "quarantine or to ask for aid from other counties." In addition, hospitals are banned from "diverting emergency ambulance patients to other hospitals."
Not Over Yet
County Health Director William Walker "recommended keeping the emergency status in place for two more weeks during El Nino storms," the Contra Costa Times reports. While Gerber said "things seem to be improving," he said the county "should continue the emergency declaration as a preventative measure." He said, "Hospitals have added more staff and canceled some elective surgeries. Compared to before, the number of critical care beds now looks good." While there were only a few critical care beds available in the county in December, "[o]n the evening of January 29, there were 24 empty beds in intensive care units." The Contra Costa Times notes that the original emergency "declaration came one day after Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Martinez closed its standby emergency clinic." Three emergency rooms -- "Los Medanos Community Hospital in Pittsburg, Kaiser in Richmond and most recently Kaiser in Martinez" -- have closed in the county since 1993 (May, 2/10).