Hospital Council To Ask Los Angeles County Supervisors Not To End Inpatient Services at Facility
The 21-member High Desert Hospital Advisory Council plans to ask Los Angeles County superviors at a public hearing today to "spare" inpatient services at the Antelope Valley hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports (Briscoe, Los Angeles Times, 8/20). Supervisors in June voted to close 11 of the county's 18 public health clinics, end inpatient services at High Desert Hospital and lay off 5,000 health care workers to cover a budget deficit in the county's health care system (California Healthline, 6/27). Under state law, supervisors must hold public hearings on the plan, after which time they will vote on the proposal a second time. The Times reports that the hearings will "undoubtedly highlight the painful choices the county faces in reducing health care costs." The proposed reductions would affect thousands of county residents, such as emergency room patients, health care workers and the "medically indigent" -- those who lack health insurance and receive care at county facilities. John Wallace, a spokesman for the county Department of Health Services, said, "The county has a proud tradition of providing a very high level of service to a very wide population. Unfortunately, sources of funding that have been available in the past are either declining or capped."
According to members of the High Desert council, the proposal to end inpatient services at the hospital would force some patients to travel 75 miles to County-USC Medical Center in Boyle or 87 miles to King-Drew Medical Center in Watts, distances that could "doom severely ill patients forced to travel that far for a hospital bed." In addition, they said that the hospital provides some "unique services." For example, the facility houses the only ward in the state equipped to treat the most contagious tuberculosis patients and the only skilled-nursing program in the county system, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 8/20).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.