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UC Board of Regents reviews updates on COVID-19, employees, women’s health

A University of California Board of Regents meeting is pictured. The health services committee met Oct 19. at UCLA to discuss UC Health updates. (Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin staff)

By Catherine Hamilton

Oct. 28, 2022 12:21 a.m.

The University of California Board of Regents health services committee gathered at UCLA on Oct. 19 to discuss updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, employee engagement and reproductive health policies.

The Board of Regents is the University’s governing body and meets bimonthly, as well as some off-months for single committee sessions.

The meeting began with 15 minutes of public comments during which UC stakeholders called for the University to continue investing in women’s health and working with underserved communities.

Carrie Byington, executive vice president and head of UC Health, gave status updates on COVID-19, diversity and care quality after recommending the Board of Regents approve strategies on respective issues developed by each UC hospital.

The United States remains in a high transmission period for COVID-19, driven by the omicron subvariant, she said, though most cases do not result in hospitalization. The second vaccine booster will also provide some immunity against omicron, though some new subvariants appear more resistant to vaccination, Byington said.

She also discussed the diversity rankings that were received and efforts implemented by UC Health.

UCLA has created a research development program at the School of Dentistry that will increase diversity within leadership roles, she said. The UC Davis School of Medicine was ranked as one of the top schools for diversity and is within the top 1% for number of graduating Hispanic or Latino physicians.

UC Health has also started hosting systemwide grand rounds, where physicians can discuss specific clinical cases. The first meeting, held Oct. 14, discussed long COVID-19. The next, scheduled for February, will discuss the overturning of Roe v. Wade’s impact on legislation and reproductive health, Byington said.

Additionally, UC academic health centers were nationally recognized in quality care, patient safety and efficiency by the Bernard A. Birnbaum ranking, which recognizes schools based on their comprehensive quality care, she said. UCLA Health was ranked fifth.

The committee then turned to discuss employee engagement at UC health care facilities.

Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System, said the data collected through systemwide surveys for health employees found that the system’s biggest challenges were high hospital occupancy and recruitment and retention issues because of California’s cost of living.

She said the solution is to increase communication between health administrators and staff, as well as empower workers. For example, UCLA Health has implemented many surveys for their employees, including a culture of safety survey, and hosts rounds of advisory board and executive team members to listen to staff in the workspace.

Finally, the committee heard from a panel of professors and health professionals – including Mya Zapata, an OB-GYN at UCLA Health – discussing reproductive health and restrictions to abortion care.

The panel called on the UC to continue supporting women and reproductive health, citing how health care access can benefit pregnant people. The Board of Regents previously adopted policy 4405 in July, which states that partnerships with health organizations must follow the UC’s commitment to non-discrimination and evidence-based care.

The Regents’ Special Committee on Innovation Transfer and Entrepreneurship will hold a meeting Friday at UC Merced.

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Catherine Hamilton | News editor
Hamilton is the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor. She is also a third-year gender studies and political science student minoring in professional writing.
Hamilton is the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor. She is also a third-year gender studies and political science student minoring in professional writing.
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