Los Angeles Times Looks at Initial Health Services Reductions in Los Angeles County
The Los Angeles Times today examines the effect that a reduction in services at the North Hollywood Health Center and the Tujunga Health Center will have on the community. Scaling back services at the two clinics is the first part of a plan by Los Angeles County to close 11 community clinics and four school health centers in an attempt to offset budget losses (Ward Biederman, Los Angeles Times, 9/4). The county Board of Supervisors on Aug. 20 voted unanimously to close 11 of 18 public health clinics, close four school-based health centers and end inpatient services at High Desert Hospital in Lancaster as part of a plan to help reduce a $710 million budget deficit in the county's health system (California Healthline, 9/3). Under the plan, the two San Fernando Valley clinics no longer provide immunizations or TB tests and will only provide adult primary care, pediatric care and women's services to patients with appointments through the end of the month. The clinics are scheduled to close Oct. 1, leaving about 18,000 people to seek care at different health centers. According to Karen Menacker, a nurse manager at Hollywood Health Center, the closures will be particularly difficult for people with chronic illnesses. Menacker predicted that the displaced patients will "overtax" the county's remaining facilities (Los Angeles Times, 9/4).
Cuts to the Los Angeles County health system threaten to shut down several research institutes connected to hospitals throughout the county, Kenneth Trevett, president and CEO of the Research and Education Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. The institute, which may close under the supervisors' plan, is a "free-standing biomedical research and training institution" that is funded entirely by a $40 million federal grant and costs the county "absolutely nothing," Trevett writes. The institute conducts research on a wide range of topics, including diabetes treatment, autoimmune disorders and antibiotic resistance, and is an important source of clinical studies conducted with a "diversity of human subjects," Trevett says. But because most of the institute's scientists also work as doctors at Harbor-UCLA, the county's potential plan to close the facility would force much of the research to stop, Trevett says. "Once sacrificed, these research programs will not be rebuilt," Trevett writes, in part because it is expensive and difficult to recruit new scientists and build new relationships with patient volunteers. Trevett concludes, "The victims of this funding crisis are not only the patients of today, but our sons and daughters, our grandchildren and their children" (Trevett, Los Angeles Times, 9/4).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.