Children's Hospital Los Angeles opened a new facility in this building off 20th Street. (Photo courtesy Children's Hospital)

Agility is a watchword in the business community. Company leaders know that to survive and thrive, operations must be able to adapt quickly, so we can’t help but admire how resilient and flexible our local hospitals have been over the past 10 months.

Our state was hit hard in the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t stop local community hospitals from rushing into service to care for patients with a little understood but very dangerous disease. They’ve kept up the hard work with almost no respite for months on end. Every member of every hospital staff deserves our thanks.

The same can be said for hospital decision-makers at all levels. It’s difficult to steer any organization based on limited information, especially when budgetary pressures loom. Hospitals have faced immense challenges yet have held strong.

Demands on emergency departments, inpatient beds, and intensive care units have intensified in recent days. And few can predict exactly what may happen as holiday event-based viral transmission threatens even higher caseloads. This may complicate staffing issues but hospital professionals have proven their dedication time and again.

Some 2 million health care workers have devoted long hours at great personal cost to give every patient, no matter how severe their symptoms, a fighting chance against Covid-19. At the same time, they’ve continued to meet the needs of numerous trauma patients and others requiring hospital care. These talented individuals have adapted to every circumstance, such as following emerging protocols for oxygen administration to spread limited supplies as far as possible.

That care levels have remained so high is a testament to the expertise and planning going on at our hospitals. They’ve consistently set the right priorities. For example, hospitals reduced executive salaries to protect clinical jobs, wages, and health benefits for employees. That meant putting more money behind patient care when it’s needed most.

Local hospitals have also invested in safety. Local hospitals were the first in the community to require universal masking and almost immediately reduced facility access once the COVID-19 threat was known. They’ve been on the forefront implementing safety measures, such as screening at all entry points, providing a helpful model for local businesses. Heroic measures were used to source personal protective equipment (PPE) and continue to ensure extensive stockpiles are replenished so all staff has access to the PPE they need.

Then comes the unexpected, an almost daily occurrence these days. For instance, when a freezer containing valuable Covid-19 vaccine vials broke earlier this month, one local hospital hurried to administer 600 shots in the hours those doses were still viable. They adjusted in the moment and still went the extra mile to protect health care workers and patients.

Hospitals are always critical infrastructure, contributing to a healthy workforce, strong economy, and vibrant families. In normal times, however, they often remain in the background, a largely unseen and under appreciated resource. It’s usually when a loved one suffers a serious health crisis that we are reminded of the value of exceptional medical care.

Now that we face a community-level crisis together, let us keep in mind the effort our hospitals are putting in every single day and each do our part—wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and social distancing, and most importantly making sure to get the COVID-19 vaccine, once it’s available — to help make their jobs a little easier.

Laurel Rosen, President for the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and Becky Warren, Chair of the Board for the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.