Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Miller Report: ‘The Storm Approaches’


The following is a press release written by William Miller, MD – Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital:

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'The Miller Report A weekly COVID-19 Upaeo Dr. William Mil ler, MD Chief of Staff, Adventist Health Mendocir Coast'

I was on a call with health officials this morning who described what they are seeing in this current COVID outbreak as like a tsunami moving north from the southern part of the State. Many of the hospitals in the LA basin are above capacity and have no ICU beds left. Our Adventist sister hospital in Bakersfield has reported that 110 of its 256 beds are filled with COVID patients. It also reported 28 patients being boarded in the ER waiting for a hospital bed to open up so they could be admitted. San Jose Regional Medical Center, the main trauma center serving the southern end of the Bay Area recently reported that its 48 ICU beds were completely full and that it was temporarily not accepting any further transfers from other, smaller hospitals.

Yet, at the same time, there are many areas that are still relatively lightly affected. For example, in speaking with a physician colleague down in San Diego, she told me that most of the cases they are seeing are clustered in the eastern part of their county, with much less in the western part being easily manageable. Something interesting that she also told me was that US hospitals along the Mexican border are seeing a dramatic surge of cases, not from Mexican nationals, but from American expatriates who have been living down in Mexico and are now returning to the US because they are ill with COVID.

Closer to home, Mendocino County belongs in the Northern Region of eleven counties with the majority of hospital beds being located in four of those counties; Del Norte, Humboldt, Lakeside and Mendocino. As of this writing, in our three hospitals in Mendocino, we have 14 hospitalized patients with COVID out of a total of 100 beds, three are in the ICU out of 16 ICU beds. On the Coast, we have been running a steady one to two COVID patients at a time for several weeks now.

Compared with other parts of the state, I would say that we continue to have relatively few cases here on the Coast. This will likely change in the next few weeks because of our own local cases or because of transfers in to us. The reality is that at some point, we may be obliged to accept patients from afar; even intubated, ICU level patients. While this reality may worry some; that is what our surge plan has been preparing for. That decision will come from the California Department of Public Health which must look at all resources available in the state to deal with this mounting disaster. In that context, we will not be able to refuse if called upon and I am not sure we would ethically want to refuse. The only way we are going to get through this is if we all stick together. If we on the Mendocino Coast are ever hit by a real tsunami, I am sure we would appreciate help from our neighboring counties. It is simply what we must do because it is the right thing to do.

Every day, I check covid19.ca.gov to see what the ICU bed availability is for the Northern California region.
Today, Tuesday, it is at 29.8% available capacity, the best number I have seen since the regional order was
announced on December 3 and above the 15% trigger for the stricter regional stay at home order. It seems
like a little thing but we take our blessings where we can these days.

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From Tabatha Miller, our City Manager:

Replacing Councilmember Lee
As the potential shutdown looms, we keep moving forward at the City. At the November 23, 2020 City
Council meeting, the City Council decided to appoint a replacement for the seat that will be vacated by Will
Lee as of December 31, 2020. We said thank you and our sad goodbyes to Mayor Lee at the last regular
City Council meeting on December 14. The appointee will serve until the regular City Council election on
November 1, 2022, when a replacement can be elected to fill the remaining two years of Councilmember
Lee’s term. An Ad Hoc committee comprised of Councilmember Albin-Smith and Councilmember Peters
drafted a simple one-page application and an outreach campaign to encourage applicants from diverse
backgrounds. Although not all the details have been locked in, applications will likely be accepted starting in

City Councilmembers receive a $300 per month stipend and family health benefits. A typical week requires5-10 hours to prepare for and attend meetings. To qualify, an applicant must be registered to vote in Fort
Bragg, a U.S. Citizen, age 18 or older, a resident of Fort Bragg and not have been convicted of specified
crimes designated in the Constitution and laws of the state. Watch the City’s website and Facebook page for
application information. Or send me an email at tmiller@fortbragg.com and I will ensure that you receive the
application when it is released.

Winter Shelter COVID Challenges

At a Special City Council meeting on December 7, 2020, the City Council approved $15,000 to add hazard
pay to the wages of Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) Winter Shelter employees in an effort to
attract applicants. The additional $4 per hour would increase the pay from $14-$16/hour to $18-$20/hour.
The Winter Shelter was unable to open as planned on December 1, 2020 due to lack of staffing. Once the
shelter opens it operates every night through the winter season. The City Council also discussed providing a
City owned facility to host the shelter for the second half of February and the month of March.
The pandemic has added an additional challenge to operating a congregate housing facility. Traditionally,
the faith-based community has hosted the shelter for two weeks at a time. The shelter rotates so that each
participating faith-based facility takes a turn and no church or neighborhood is overly burdened. The need to
not share the facility with other users, provide ample room between guests, sanitize regularly and keep
everyone safe has severely limited the venues willing to house the shelter this year.

Unable to find alternative venues after an exhaustive search, MCHC reached out to the City asking if the
Gymnasium or Old Recreation Center behind City Hall would be available for the second half of February
and the month of March. City Council considered allowing the shelter to lease either the Gymnasium or
portions of the C.V. Starr Community Center. Both locations are controversial and neither is ideal. The
biggest concern is the impact to the surrounding residences and/or businesses. There was also discussion
regarding use of the Hospitality Center located at 101 N. Franklin Street.

The Council delayed the decision until January, so that more information could be gathered and the
community would have time to weigh in on the issue of location. MCHC anticipates having staff hired
and trained to open the shelter by the first part of January at a local faith-based facility. If you would
like to share support for, objections to or other suggestions, please feel free to email me at

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  1. As a local Resident from Albion, I have been so proud to live in this community. Everywhere I have traveled in the US during the last 6 months I have seen far less willingness by residents to wear a mask. In August I was in a grocery store in Missouri where I was the only person in the whole store with a mask on his face. At the time California was in the middle of our first wave and people in those middle eastern states were telling me that the mess in California was simply because we “Believed We were sick with Covid but it was really just the flu” I thought to myself “This will be interesting because if we keep wearing a mask in Mendocino County we should see a dramatic shift in where Covid is hitting.” Sadly I was right. As a Biology teacher, I have just been so impressed with the local response to all this mess. Thank you to all of you who wear a mask and are careful every day. It allows so many people to have enough freedom to still work and earn some money. Not to mention the improved mental health because we can leave our homes at times.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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