LOS ANGELES COUNTY II: County-USC Compromise May Worsen Bed Shortage
Although the County-USC Medical Center compromise was considered by some a "landmark victory" for Los Angeles county residents, others argue that the new facility, slated to include 150 fewer beds than the current facility, will worsen the existing bed shortage, the Los Angeles Times reports. The compromise includes building a smaller, 80-bed annex 16 miles away, but critics claim that the annex will not compensate for a smaller County-USC Medical Center, as public and private clinics continue to close throughout Los Angeles. The already "overburdened" County-USC hospital puts patients with heart problems, diabetes and hepatitis on months-long waiting lists, and residents worry that there will not be enough room to serve the uninsured population. Rodolfo Diaz, executive director of the Community Health Foundation in Los Angeles, said that with nearly three million uninsured residents in Los Angeles county, "there are a number of people ... who have never been to a doctor in their life. What will the county do when they need emergency care?" Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) is trying to ease tensions by drawing attention to a joint county and state study slated for 2005 that will review the status of County-USC and determine whether the hospital should be expanded at that time. Hertzberg said, "The test will be: What does the community need? And we'll determine where we go from there" (Olivo, 9/10).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.