ORANGE COUNTY: Legal Care Hotline Debuts
The Orange County Health Care Agency yesterday "expanded the services of its toll-free hotline ... to tell residents how to get" safe and legal medical care. The move comes as the county attempts to crack down on unlicensed medical clinics and the illegal distribution of prescription medications. The hotline will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and will have a pre-recorded message referring callers to Children's Hospital of Orange County's 24-hour pediatric clinic during off hours. In addition to the hotline, said Dan Gleason, the health promotion manager for the county health care agency, the campaign will include fliers and posters "to caution people about the use of medication and where to obtain safe medical care" and to list alternative sources of care. Dr. Mary Watson, a coalition member and executive director of Santa Ana's Free Health Plan clinics, said that in addition to offering alternatives, "community norms" have to be changed and the county must "ferret out the people who are making a profit on the lives of other people." The Los Angeles Times reports that the hotline and the accompanying educational campaign are the first two prongs of the Orange County Safe Healthcare Coalition's five year plan, which was unveiled to county supervisors on Tuesday evening. The elements "include developing a medical resources directory, coordinating health care services, creating a Web site and assembling a task force for the uninsured and underinsured." District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas also told the county supervisors that he plans to debut in about three weeks "a toll-free hotline in three languages so residents can anonymously report information about illegally obtained pharmaceuticals" (Mehta, 4/29).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.