Patients, Health Care Workers Protest Rancho Los Amigos Closure
Although more than 100 patients, physicians, health care workers and advocates for the disabled yesterday urged the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to reconsider plans to close Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, board members appear unlikely to reverse their decision, the Los Angeles Times reports. Supporters of Rancho Los Amigos used the time allotted for public comment during the board's weekly meeting to protest the rehabilitation center's closure, which they said would "come at the expense" of Los Angeles' "most vulnerable people" (Briscoe, Los Angeles Times, 11/20). The board on Oct. 29 voted 4-1 to close Rancho Los Amigos next June to help cover an estimated $750 million budget deficit in the county health system. Supervisors estimated that the closure will save the county $58.6 million next year and $65 million to $70 million in future years. Supervisors will vote to finalize the closure in January. Rancho Los Amigos, which has 207 beds and 1,400 employees, provided "highly specialized" rehabilitation services to 2,600 inpatients and 8,700 outpatients last year. Last week, numerous Los Angeles County health care workers and patients launched a campaign to save the center, organizing teleconferences, letter campaigns and online petitions. In addition, the union that represents the county's 19,000 health care workers on Monday held demonstrations at Rancho Los Amigos (California Healthline, 11/13). Eve Hill, executive director of the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, said that closing Rancho Los Amigos would be discriminatory because earlier this month, voters approved Measure B, a property tax to help fund the trauma care system. The board has "proposed to eliminate the piece of the trauma system that serves people with disabilities," Hill said, adding, "(The county) must provide services to meet the health care needs of all its citizens, not just those who are able-bodied" (Los Angeles Times, 11/20).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.