Los Angeles County Will Recommend Layoffs, Hospital Conversions Next Month
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services next month will recommend laying off 5,000 employees as part of its plan to address a budget deficit expected to reach $688 million in the next three years, the Los Angeles Times reports. Department spokesperson John Wallace said the job cuts, beginning in October, would affect "direct patient care staff, administrative care staff and probably the whole gamut of the workforce." The department's plan also includes the "complete or partial" closure of at least two hospitals, "major reductions" in trauma and emergency care capacity and a reduction in affiliation with area medical schools (Therolf, Los Angeles Times, 5/18). Officials are considering converting High Desert Hospital in the Antelope Valley and another as-yet-undetermined hospital into outpatient facilities. They also may propose making Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center a self-supporting facility that would not be run by the health system. The hospital conversions and job cuts represent the second part of the county's plan to address its $360 million budget deficit for 2003, following the closure of four clinics (California Healthline, 5/2).
Last week, Los Angeles County supervisors went to Washington, D.C., seeking more federal funding, but county Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen said they were told "there is no money" in the federal budget. Mark Tarnawsky, a spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union Local 660, said, "There needs to be an intensive effort to win additional funding," saying the layoffs are "simply an exercise in cutting ... vital services, rather than making an aggressive, all fronts effort to fund services." Still, Miguel Santana, chief of staff for county Supervisor Gloria Molina, said, "If we don't make the cuts now, they will be larger later. It's hard to see any alternatives than to engage in this process." The department's plan will be presented to county supervisors June 18 (Los Angeles Times, 5/18).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.