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
The San Diego Hepatitis A Epidemic: (Mis)Handling A Public Health Crisis (San Diego Conty)