Antelope Valley Officials Criticize Decision To Proceed with High Desert Hospital Conversion
Antelope Valley officials yesterday "condemned" a decision by Los Angeles County not to use part of a $150 million federal bailout to prevent the conversion of High Desert Hospital, a Lancaster-based public hospital, into an outpatient clinic, the Los Angeles Times reports (Fausset, Los Angeles Times, 2/6). The county Department of Health Services announced Tuesday that the federal government will provide the county health system with an additional $150 million over the next two years, a move that will allow Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the county's network of private health clinics that treat uninsured patients and the Edward R. Roybal Comprehensive Health Center to remain open. However, the planned closures of High Desert and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center will proceed (California Healthline, 2/5). James Ledford, mayor of Palmdale, said that the decision favors the urban part of the county, although Antelope Valley hospitals are overcrowded. The Antelope Valley population has increased by 27% to 318,000 over the past 10 years, and two of five hospitals in the area have closed over the same period, Antelope Valley officials said. In addition, they said that an estimated 25% of Antelope Valley residents do not have health insurance.
However, Los Angeles County officials said that High Desert, with only 75 beds, does not "operate efficiently" (Los Angeles Times, 2/6). In August, the county Board of Supervisors approved a pilot program to allow High Desert officials to offer unused beds to private hospitals, medical groups and the Department of Corrections to help raise additional revenue. Hospital officials hoped that the new contracts would raise an additional $4 million per year, or $333,000 a month. According to a December report issued by the Los Angeles County health services department, High Desert only raised about $100,000 in each of the first two months of the program (California Healthline, 12/11/02).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.