L.A. County-USC Medical Center Director Resigns
Roberto Rodriguez, executive director of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, announced his resignation yesterday, one day after Los Angeles County's health director Mark Finucane said he is quitting, the Los Angeles Times reports. Rodriguez's decision "further destabiliz[es] the mammoth, ailing county health system," as his exit, combined with Finucane's resignation and the "forced departure" last year of county medical director Donald Thomas, leaves the agency "with virtually no leadership as it faces a deficit that is expected to reach $847 million by 2005," the Times reports. Both Finucane and Rodriguez will remain at their jobs through the end of June. Rodriguez, who was brought in by Finucane to run the medical center, was under investigation for "allegedly making $900,000 in improvements to the Roosevelt-era medical center," the Times reports. According to an auditors' report released last August, $432,000 of the renovations were unauthorized. Rodriguez defended his decisions, saying the renovations were necessary to upgrade the "filthy" facility. However, Dr. William Mallon, a County-USC physician, said it was "embarrassing" that Rodriguez chose to refurbish lobbies and offices instead of recruiting more nurses during a shortage. The Times reports that the departure of Finucane and Rodriguez, both of whom had "rancorous relationships" with the county Board of Supervisors, will create a void that may be difficult to fill. Calling the double resignation a "stunning blow," Mandy Johnson, executive director of the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, said, "It took them more than a year to recruit [Finucane]. ... And I don't imagine there are people out there who have had this experience who are champing at the bit to come to L.A. to help us out of our troubles" (Bernstein/Riccardi, Los Angeles Times, 3/16).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.