A San Diego County grand jury report released this week identified “a number of shortcomings” in the region’s response to health emergencies such as the recent hepatitis A outbreak, and the report highlighted a shortage of public restrooms as a key issue.
Twenty people died and upwards of 600 people contracted the highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus during last year’s outbreak, which was first identified in March and lasted into the beginning of this year.
Highlighted recommendations in the grand jury report include:
- That the County declare a local public health emergency much sooner when confronted with a similar outbreak in the future
- That the County Emergency Operations Plan be revised to establish a command structure during a health emergency, to facilitate the affected agencies’ ability to recognize and implement their duties within this structure
- That the County more clearly establish lines of authority to prevent misunderstandings regarding departmental responsibilities
- That the County of San Diego designate a project manager who can communicate effectively with City officials and medical personnel to take necessary actions quickly during a health emergency
- That the City of San Diego adopt procedures to reinforce the authority of the county health officer in dealing with public health crises
- That the City of San Diego designate a medical professional to report directly to the Mayor, someone who can advise city officials on the significance of announcements regarding potential health emergencies.
- That the City of San Diego construct and maintain additional secure restrooms and handwashing facilities in areas where the homeless congregate
Hepatitis Outbreak Exposed Need for More Public Restrooms (Fox 5)
The San Diego Hepatitis A Epidemic: (Mis)Handling A Public Health Crisis (San Diego Conty)
Outbreaks of Hepatitis A in Multiple States – Guidance (CDC)
Viral Hepatitis Resource Center (CDC)