Why it matters:

Declaring a local emergency notifies state and federal authorities of the situation and can provide easier access to support and possible funding opportunities.

Documented by Rachel Youdelman

ER Director for Community Regional Medical Center said that “patients are suffering” and used the term “dire straits” to describe the conditions at local hospitals at the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 3, 2023.

What happened: In its first meeting of 2023, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to proclaim a short-term local emergency on Jan. 3, following the closure of the 106-bed Madera Community Hospital.

The board first heard from Director of the Department of Public Health David Luchini and Dan Lynch, director of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), who both said that a declaration of emergency was not necessary at this time.

But Dr. Danielle Campagne, ER director for Community Regional Medical Center and Medical Director for American Ambulance, offered a differing view. She said that “patients are suffering” and used the term “dire straits.” She said there were insufficiently available operating rooms, inadequate supplies of blood, and that there were even 30 patients in beds placed in a hospital hallway.

In response, Supervisor Steve Brandau said that Campagne’s remarks were “very powerful,” but that he had spoken to “quite a number of people in the ‘industry’” who said the conditions are long-standing and not due to the Madera hospital closure. He said that it’s a “big deal” to declare an emergency, and in this case, there is no “big deal,” so it would be “crying wolf,” because the issue is ongoing.

To which, Supervisor Brian Pacheco compared the situation to the drought, which is ongoing but still warranted being termed an emergency, as are conditions caused by the Creek Fire. “Our duty is to notify the state,” he said, and to tell the state government that “you helped create the problem.”

Up next: The board will reevaluate the state of local emergency at its next scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2023.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...