COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County - Effects on Watsonville Community Hospital & Community Mental Health
Public Health Officer Report:
At our last convening Dr. Gail Newel gave an update on COVID-19 cases in our county. For up to date numbers please see the link above. Dr. Newel also spoke to the local work being done to reopen Santa Cruz County as well as the guidance available through the California Resilience Road Map created by the governor’s office.
Local Response: The County is now partnered with Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to create and enact a community-based plan for moving forward through the COVID-19 epidemic. The partnership has been named SAVE Lives Santa Cruz County and is founded on these four principles:
-Slow the Spread
-Adapt and Adjust
-Vaccinate and Treat
State Response: The Governor of California has created the Resilience Road Map, which can be broken down into four stages. We are currently in Stage Two of California’s reopening. This allows for the reopening of small retail businesses using safe curbside pickup protocols. Based on how Santa Cruz County is doing, we may move slightly faster through these phases. The next stage will be months away and will include the reopening of high-risk places of business (movie theaters, religious service spaces, restaurants). The last phase, Stage 4, will be months after stage three and will include the reopening of events and spaces for large gatherings.
Watsonville Community Hospital Update:
Watsonville Community Hospital (WHC) is still seeing significantly lower rates of patient visits, and had just re-opened elective surgeries. WHC also took on a hospital wide PPE training/re-training program, provided by one of their lead nurses. Upon discharging a COVID-19 positive patient who was hospitalized for 30 days, the staff and local law enforcement came together to celebrate her recovery.
Mental Health Amidst COVID-19:
We were joined by Noah Whitaker of the County’s Suicide Prevention Task Force. Noah spoke on the need to invest in behavioral health services amidst COVID-19. People have been experiencing abnormal amounts of stress and isolation over the past few months and this is expected to have in an impact on wellness in our community. The Santa Cruz County Suicide Prevention Task Force has recently finalized their strategic plan centered around prevention, intervention, and postvention (the follow up and care provided to individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide). With the strategic plan as their guide, the Task Force will be addressing COVID-related mental health outcomes by implementing the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (an assessment tool for suicide ideation), reducing access to lethal means, ramping up telehealth services, and maintaining access to the suicide hotline (1-877-663-5433).