By Allen Payton
In response to some concerns by county residents and questions to county Supervisor Candace Andersen and health services spokespeople, it was revealed this week that Contra Costa is accepting patients from hospitals as far away as Imperial County along the border with Mexico. That’s because our county has mutual aid agreements with that and other counties in the state.
In response to a resident’s question “is CCC getting patients from other counties that are overloaded (such as Imperial County, or other counties)?” Gayle Israel, Chief of Staff for Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen, wrote in an email, “We have two patients in Contra Costa hospitals from Imperial County. Also have 15 Contra Costa residents in Alameda County Hospitals. Reporting shows hospitalizations by county where hospitalized, not by residency. So, we are +13 beyond what is reported on our hospitalized dashboard.”
Asked by the Herald why the patients from Imperial County are in Contra Costa, Will Harper, Communications Specialist for Contra Costa Health Services responded, “We took on these patients as part of a mutual aid agreement to provide relief to hospitals in Imperial County,”
Asked if there are patients transferred to hospitals in Contra Costa County from any other county in the state, he responded, “Yes. We have mutual aid agreements with counties and offer help when they become over capacity.”
In addition, the resident asked Supervisor Andersen, “how many of the hospitalizations are from the four active nursing home outbreaks, and how many of the deaths are from the nursing home outbreaks?”
Israel responded, “Ten of the 11 deaths since Friday were from congregate care facilities, nine from the same facility. Had a record number of cases over the weekend, but also hit target for first time for tests per day – higher amount of tests = higher cases. Health Officer says we have the data for # of hospitalizations from congregate care facilities, but he didn’t have at his fingertips. We are asking for that information – however, we have been told all along that those critically ill in skilled nursing facilities are not typically transferred to hospitals, so that number is likely low.”
As a result, communications staff for county health services were asked by the Herald if a statistic can be included on the County Health Services’ Coronavirus Hospital Dashboard that shows in which other counties Contra Costa patients are located and which patients in Contra Costa hospitals are from other counties, Harper responded, “currently, there is not, though we are always working to expand the amount of data on our website and have added many dashboards over the past 1-2 months.”
Some county residents have expressed concern that people are crossing the border from Mexico, which for now is closed to non-essential travel, testing positive and filling up hospitals in California, and might be increasing the state’s Coronavirus statistics, resulting in a negative impact on decisions by government officials regarding reopening businesses, schools, sports and other activities. In addition, a video about what is happening in Riverside County, that COVID-19 patients are being flown in from Imperial County, raised questions about how the patients arrived in Contra Costa County.
The following additional questions were sent to county health services spokespeople late Tuesday night: People are wondering are those patients you referred to American citizens, or at least residents of Imperial County, or are they Mexican citizens or residents who have come across the border and entered the hospitals, there? Also, how did they arrive in Contra Costa? Do you know if they were flown, here to our county?
Please check back later for answers to the questions and any other updates to this report.