SDHSA’s PROGRESS: RESPONSE TO COVID-19 ISSUES

April 21, 2020: As you should know, SDHSA filed a formal Grievance with UCSD on March 30, 2020 bringing to UCSD’s attention the numerous health, safety, employment and academic issues that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. SDHSA’s expeditious response and airing of the concerns of UCSD’s House Staff is resulting in changes and progress on many fronts. What we have seen is that this awareness is reverberating from the local level to UC System-Wide and even national consciousness and action.

SDHSA’s Grievance brought focus and attention to many current issues including: Paid Sick Time Off And UCSD’s Culture Of Discouraging House Staff From Utilizing Accrued Sick Time; The Urgent Need For Adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and for Transparent PPE Policies, COVID-19 Priority Testing And Treatment For House Staff, Hazard Pay, Free Lodging And Other Benefits For House Staff, A Move To Not Penalize House Staff For ACGME Training Requirements, and The Need Guard Against Fear of Retaliation.  

Progress has been made as SDHSA continues to push for additional improvement in these areas. Notably, many changes have been made system wide after SDHSA filed their Grievance. On April 2, 2020, three days after the Grievance was filed, UCOP issued a letter stating “[w]e are keenly aware of the health concerns and economic uncertainty weighing on the entire University community…” On April 3, 2020, UCSD issued “Lodging for Caregivers” which provided free lodging for House Staff per UCSD guidelines. On April 7, 2020, UCSD issued new employee testing, exposure and return-to-work guidelines, stating if you have symptoms to stay home. UCSD also instituted some communication/transparency to SDHSA regarding supplies through PULSE. SDHSA is still waiting for UCSD’s formal written response to the Grievance.

In addition, SDHSA’s letter to ACGME on March 31, 2020, urged for more oversight of compliance with ACGME institutional requirements including proper safety and PPE, compliance with work hours and other rules governing institutions. The impact of which was evident by the ACGME directives issued on April 5, 6, 9, 10, and 13th stating that they expect institutions to comply with strict requirements of PPE, supervision, and adherence to work hour requirements. Further, on April 14, 2020, ACGME responded directly to SDHSA thanking us for our letter.

Furthermore, SDHSA’s letter to Mayor of San Diego on March 31, 2020, urged for more assistance with PPE, funding and local governmental support. In response, on April 2 and 9th, 2020 the Mayor called for local manufacturing of protective gear and started using 3D printers at the San Diego library to make PPE. SDHSA’s letter to Governor Newsom on March 31, 2020, urged for more assistance to healthcare workers, PPE, emergency expenses related to COVID-19 including protection for healthcare workers families and sick leaves, childcare for frontline workers, and additional pay. In response, on April 4, 2020, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to expand childcare access for essential workers and launched a website for donations and sales of PPE. On April 7, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an order to help procure PPE. On April 9, 2020, Governor Newsom announced free and low-cost hotel rooms for healthcare workers who are exposed to protect their families. As of April 11, 2020, CARES act provides an additional $600 per week for those people that have exhausted all leaves and have to remain out of work. There is still much work to be done but helped by the efforts of SDHSA, changes have been made. Together we are stronger and will continue to ensure the health and safety of our members.

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