Los Angeles County Supervisors Approve Plan to Study Emergency Room Expansions at Three Hospitals
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to study expanding emergency room facilities at three county hospitals, despite the fact that the county's health system faces a deficit that is expected to grow to $884 million by 2005, the Los Angeles Times reports. Saying that the hospitals "were overwhelmed by patients," the supervisors voted to "draw up plans" to expand emergency and operating rooms at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance and to study adding emergency room beds at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar and High Desert Hospital in the Antelope Valley. The vote was a "blunt display of the politics that undergird [the county's] ailing health system," the Times reports. The board "had been scheduled only to authorize $1 million" for plans to expand Harbor-UCLA, which "straddles" the districts of Supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Don Knabe. The other three supervisors have not supported prior efforts by Burke and Knabe to expand Harbor-UCLA, but Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky agreed to approve the plan after the other two facilities were added to the list.
The Times reports that the board in the past has advocated "shrinking" instead of expanding hospitals to cut costs, and that Yaroslavsky had been "one of the most vocal proponents" of the contraction approach. He said yesterday that the board was "only seeking information" by calling for studies of possible expansion and had not committed any money. But Supervisor Gloria Molina, who cast the lone vote against the expansion plans, said, "Any kind of needs assessment ... is going to demonstrate that there's a huge need. I think it's inappropriate for this board to be adding onto the tab when, in reality, there are discussions going on and people saying, 'Well, we're going to have to close one of our hospitals. We're going to have to close some of these beds'" (Riccardi/Larrubia, Los Angeles Times, 12/5).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.