Officials Discuss Emergency Preparedness Efforts
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday said a $400 million plan to help California hospitals accommodate a surge of patients during emergencies and natural disasters "is absolutely a critical investment," the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Schwarzenegger's emergency preparedness plan would provide emergency medical items like mobile field hospitals, ventilators, protective equipment and supplies to hospitals. The plan is included in the proposed fiscal year 2006-2007 state budget.
Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) said he supports the plan and hopes that if it is approved by the Legislature, the Schwarzenegger administration will work quickly to implement the plan (Kandel, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/24).
Separately on Friday, Howard Backer, chief medical consultant for the Department of Health Services, said counties would largely be on their own during a flu pandemic.
Backer said, "Pandemics are a local phenomenon. The local jurisdictions have the responsibility to carry out services" (Arnquist, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 6/24).
Meanwhile, James Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, said the federal government has not done enough to help states prepare for a flu pandemic.
The federal government in January said it would provide $6.7 million to California for flu preparedness efforts.
Carol Meyer, director of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, said none of that money will be awarded to private hospitals, which account for a large number of the facilities in the area.
Lott also said hospitals in the state estimate they would need 350,000 ventilators in the case of a pandemic but currently have just 35,000 (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/24).