Los Angeles County Supervisors Support Splitting County Health Department
Four of the five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors support a plan to split the county Department of Health Services into a unit to address public health functions and a separate unit to administer the county hospital system, the Los Angeles Times reports. The fifth supervisor, Gloria Molina, declined to comment in the Times' inquiry into the board's opinion on the split, which was first proposed in April by Supervisor Don Knabe.
Some supervisors indicated that they would not support separating the department for several months to allow time to concentrate efforts on addressing issues at Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center.
Last week, the county's chief administrator issued a report outlining the differences in the missions of public health and the hospital system. According to the report, a split would foster an increased focus on public health initiatives such as immunizing children, treating sexually transmitted diseases, inspecting restaurants and investigating disease outbreaks.
In related news, a draft of a county civil grand jury report obtained by the Times recommends transferring control of county hospitals from the board of supervisors to an independent health authority. The report, by Harvey M. Rose Accountancy, stated, "Board actions in key operational areas were often found to be retroactive and lacking follow-up, resulting in recurrences of some of the same problems."
According to the Times, supervisors and county DHS officials said splitting the department would be a quicker and less costly solution than creating an independent authority (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/17).