ORANGE COUNTY: Activists Call for Investigation of Store-Front Clinics
Acknowledging that Orange County has been slow to address the problem of unlicensed medical clinics, Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona vowed yesterday to ramp up his department's enforcement efforts. The Orange County Register reports that while Los Angeles County has investigated 147 clinics and made 52 arrests, only a single Orange County city has taken any action. A Santa Ana police task force has investigated 32 clinics and made three arrests, but has taken no action since June. "The county is not showing a direct assertive response at any level," said Latino Health Access CEO America Bracho. "It's about time that we take action that can give us some results," he said. Los Amigos of Orange County President Amin David said, "I'm not so sure the power that be were convinced that this was a very serious problem." The inaction has frustrated many community activists, who note the police received a tip on the illegal clinic where Selene Segura Rios died more than two weeks beforehand. But enforcement officials contend they had no idea how widespread the problem was (Kowalczyk/Gordon/Collins, 3/4).
Task Force Formed
Sheriff Carona said he wants to form a task force with District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas and Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who vowed to be "proactive." The Los Angeles Times reports that none of the three officials "was aware of the law that Assemblyman Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park) sponsored last summer" that allows health officials "to investigate, seize drugs and shut down businesses illegally providing treatment and selling medicine" (Reyes, 3/4).