A World Class Medical System to Combat COVID19

San Jose’s O’Connor Hospital, Gilroy’s St Louise Regional Hospital, and Morgan Hill’s De Paul Health Center were threatened with bankruptcy and closure a year ago. Had that occurred, the deluge of COVID19 emergency patients and last year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting casualties would not have had access to timely treatment. The Board of Supervisors, County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith, and County Counsel James Williams acted decisively, successfully countering the State Attorney General, and acquired those assets. The County then quickly upgraded then integrated those three important medical facilities into Santa Clara County’s comprehensive health and hospital system. The result is an excellent, geographically, and clinically comprehensive health care capacity, for the County’s two million residents, that is second to none.

The investment of $235 million to purchase and $170 million for state-of-the-art upgrades integrated the three new medical facilities with Valley Medical Center in the venerable Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System. That created three licensed acute care hospitals supported by over 50 service and training centers county wide. The fortuitous result is that the fight against the COVID19 pandemic in our Valley is led by the County’s health and hospital system with 1,048 licensed acute care beds supported by 7,600 skilled professional staff. Led by Valley Medical Center GM Paul Lorenz, those doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are our courageous front line warriors in this battle for survival. And those teaching hospitals, with Stanford professors guiding medical interns from the world’s best universities, serve the Valley’s elite while also serving all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. That remarkable capacity is supported by an annual budget of $2.47 billion of which nearly 80% is covered by the users’ fees.

As reported in Jody Mecham’s fine “Time to Fight” article in last week’s Silicon Valley Business Journal, an emergency addition of 250 temporary non-acute beds has been quickly completed in the Santa Clara Convention Center. That urgently needed added capacity will allow recovering COVID19 patients to be shifted from the acute hospitals. That thoughtful advanced planning was guided by, among others, County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody who has led the regional medical response planning. The added convalescent care capacity makes the Valley’s hospitals’ rapidly filling acute care beds available to the influx of critically ill and very contagious new COVID19 sufferers. That wonderful medical staff is terribly over worked and in constant danger and some provisions are short but the battle is joined and, with the public’s help with social distancing, the good guys are winning!

The County’s investment to acquire the three hospitals last year was a bargain then and a stroke of genius in light of current events. Congratulations Santa Clara County! We’re as ready as anywhere in the world to fight and win against COVID19! Indeed, we have a world-class hospital system for a world class region.

Provided to the Silicon Valley Business Journal by Silicon Valley Ethics Roundtable Chair and County Board of Supervisor’s Chair (ret.) Rod Diridon, Sr.


SVER NOTE: The opinions in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of the Silicon Valley Ethics Roundtable. Articles are posted for comment and discussion.

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