COVID-19 Response After Action Report and Preparedness Planning

California Department of Public Health

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) was responsible for coordinating the overarching state response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of staff members were “activated” as disaster service workers and frequently worked as many as 60 hours a week, with no days off, for months on end. While California has some things to be very proud of with their COVID-19 response, they also know there were many things they could have done better. CDPH was interested in identifying lessons learned and developing a plan for improvements to help the state be ready for the next public health emergency.

Facente Consulting partnered with Quality Perspectives and Epicenter Innovation – two major players in the public health emergency preparedness arena – to conduct a five-month comprehensive assessment of CDPH’s COVID-19 response using surveys, 1:1 interviews on Zoom, and seven “hot wash” meetings. The findings were outlined in an interim “After Action Report,” a formal report used commonly in the emergency management world, that outlined strengths and weaknesses of the emergency response and provided concrete recommendations for future planning. Facente Consulting also spent six months facilitating a planning process with CDPH and partners, identifying and making actionable recommendations for short-term urgent fixes to the ongoing response, medium-term planning that would help transition the COVID-19 response into a more sustainable maintenance mode, and long-term planning that will help the department be best prepared to respond to future pandemics.