Santa Clarita Valley’s Medical Professionals Rise to the Challenge
There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for all, but most especially those on the front lines caring for those who are gravely ill with COVID-19. It was hard to predict in March how our region would be affected, but those heading up the medical response had been preparing for something like this for a long time.
The leadership and preparedness from SCV medical professionals have been exemplary; the emergency response team at Henry Mayo Hospital had stockpiles of N95 masks and other PPE well in advance of this crisis, and the new patient tower was completed just in time to expand capacity. Hospital officials moved quickly to create a COVID-19 task force and implemented a drive-through testing facility and isolated floor of the new tower to safely treat COVID positive patients. Ten months later, and now into our second and more serious spike in coronavirus cases, the teams at Henry Mayo and other regional medical facilities are working harder than ever.
Henry Mayo hospital is a private, award winning hospital that serves the Santa Clarita Valley. In recent years, it has been undergoing an expansion to better meet the needs of our region’s growing population. The hospital embarked on a major long term planning project which included the construction of a new inpatient Patient Tower that added up to 130 new beds, new medical office buildings designed to support hospital programs and services, a new central plant, new parking structures and a life-saving helipad with direct access to the Emergency/Trauma Departments. Its medical staff is comprised of over 550 with over 1,900 employees in total.
However, this pandemic has brought to light that there is a dire shortage of trained medical professionals nationwide, especially those with ICU training. That is true in our valley as well. College of the Canyons’ acclaimed nursing program typically graduates 50-60 nurses a term. Because of the pandemic, the numbers are down this semester with only 34 graduating from the program.
Despite the challenges, the COVID -19 has created unique learning opportunities as well; COC programs serving all students have had to pivot to accommodate current conditions as students are dealing with a bevy of health and mental health issues including mental health, which has provided a way for nursing students to creatively meet some of their requirements as peer counselors. Nursing students have also had the opportunity to volunteer at the campus’ Los Angeles County drive through COVID testing site and can count those hours towards their training requirements and completion.
Overall, those employed in the healthcare industry in the Santa Clarita Valley comprise about 18% of the total workforce. This number is projected to grow over the next several years to nearly 13,000 jobs. Henry Mayo and Kaiser are large employers of these professionals, as are Quest Diagnostics, Q2, and the State’s new COVID-19 testing lab.
These jobs are vital to our community and SCVEDC’s Board of Directors is extremely grateful for the dedication and persistence of our health heroes and know that the battle is long from over. As we move closer to a vaccine and better understanding of other therapeutics and technologies to combat the virus, we hope that the next year will bring some relief to those in the healthcare industry, and that SCV can enjoy a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.
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