Los Angeles Times Profiles Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Examines Plan To Close the Facility
The Los Angeles Times today profiles Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, one of two large public hospitals that Los Angeles County officials have proposed to close as part of a plan to reduce the county Department of Health Services' budget shortfall. The facility, which serves a "vast area" in the southwestern portion of the county, would close departments systematically "as cash dries up," beginning with the psychiatric emergency room, then the general emergency room, followed by intensive care units. Ultimately, Harbor-UCLA would be converted to an outpatient clinic, the Times reports (Therolf, Los Angeles Times, 8/7). In June, the county Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to close 11 of the county's 18 public health clinics, end inpatient services at High Desert Hospital and lay off 5,000 health care workers, saving the county about $150 million -- the "deepest cuts ever" to the county's health system. The supervisors said that the health department should "prepare for far more severe" funding cuts in October, including the closure of Harbor-UCLA and Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, if they fail to convince the federal government to give the health system an additional $350 million (California Healthline , 6/27). In order to keep trauma and emergency services at Harbor-UCLA and other public hospitals open, supervisors are putting a $168 million tax on the ballot this fall, but they said "it will be tough" to garner the two-thirds votes needed to pass the tax. The Times reports that Harbor-UCLA for years has provided patients with "any type of medical care they needed, at any hour and for a nominal fee." Dr. Robert Hockberger, chair of Harbor-UCLA's emergency medicine department, said the hospital's closure "affects everyone, whether you're homeless or a millionaire in Palos Verdes" (Los Angeles Times, 8/7).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.