Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe issued the following statement today in response to the County’s Chief Executive Officer’s recommendation to close and/or reduce clinic services throughout the County, as a means to balance the County’s Department of Health Services Fiscal Year 2008-09 Budget:
In the upcoming fiscal year, our Department of Health Services is looking at a budget shortfall of up to $300 million. In an effort to balance the budget, the CEO has brought forward a recommendation that calls on this Board to close or reduce services at most of our health centers and comprehensive health centers throughout the County. And although, this is only a starting point of the conversation, I am shocked by the proposal and deeply concerned by it.
It is true that this plan will generate millions in savings, but what it fails to address is the effect that closing clinics will have on our already overworked emergency rooms. With the recent overcrowding issues at Harbor-UCLA and the closures of the emergency rooms at King-Harbor and Daniel Freeman Hospitals, the system can ill-afford any further strain. The emergency care system at both private and County hospitals is already in a fragile state, and further increasing the workload of our emergency rooms is creating a time-bomb waiting to explode. We need to be opening more clinics in the County, not closing them.
I will be introducing a motion at Tuesday’s Board Meeting that will ask the CEO to come up with a comprehensive list of all possible options to balance the Health Department’s budget. We have some very difficult decisions on the horizon, but this proposal should be viewed as our last resort and not just a quick fix.