Los Angeles County Supervisors Move to Address Problems at County-USC, Nursing Shortage
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took several steps Tuesday to improve care in the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center psychiatric emergency room and across the county's troubled health system, the Los Angeles Times reports. Responding to a Los Angeles County Grand Jury report detailing unsafe and overcrowded conditions at the County-USC psychiatric ER, the board passed a motion to have the county's health staff study the cost of "opening up 39 beds in another county hospital for patients backed up" in the facility. In addition, the board initiated a study of the county's $2.4 billion-a-year Department of Health Services to identify "any other deficiencies in emergency care" similar to those described by the grand jury report and two Times articles last week about three patient deaths at the hospital "after prolonged waits for dialysis." The board also moved closer to a compromise with Service Employees International Union Local 660 over a dispute that has stalled a program to "retrain county workers in nursing specialties." The union "has been quarrelling with supervisors over who will control $40 million in retraining funds the county got last year." While the union has sought an "equal say" in allocating the funds, supervisors "have balked" at the proposal. On Tuesday, the board approved a motion from Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to "spend the $2.5 million the county can immediately use on training nurses to work in intensive care or dialysis units" -- areas "subject to deadly delays." Yaroslavsky also "challenged the union" to allow interim county Health Director Fred Leaf to develop a plan for the funds. Local 660 spokesperson Kathy Ochoa said that she had "no problem" with the proposal (Riccardi/Rohrlich, Los Angeles Times, 7/4).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.