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Prenatal Care in L.A. County

November 17, 1987

The articles confirmed many of my personal feelings. As an obstetrician involved in so-called "drop-in patients" in a private hospital, I can attest to the large number of pregnant women who are admitted to the hospital with no prenatal care.

The ultimate outcome of these prognoses is horrendous. The newborn babies are frequently suffering from the effects of prematurity or growth retardation. The newborn intensive care units are packed with these infants at costs of up to $2,000 per day. The babies that are discharged frequently are readmitted to the hospitals with pneumonia, meningitis or some other illness. The greatest tragedy occurs when these women arrive at the hospital with a dead fetus.

The neglect of these indigent pregnant women is a disgrace to a state and a county that pride themselves on their wealth. The situation, where the pregnant women who receive no prenatal care, can only become worse. Approximately 25% of pregnant women receive Medi-Cal in California. However, the stipend paid by Medi-Cal to the doctors and hospitals is greatly underfunded and as a result, most obstetricians refuse to accept them as patients. The poor will find it more difficult to receive medical care because the public clinics are limited as to the number of patients that they can accommodate.

I agree with the philosophy that if more funds and resources were devoted to prenatal care of the poor, that money would be saved. But what is more important, we would have healthier mothers and consequently deliver healthier babies.

WILLIAM A. EDDY, M.D.

Long Beach

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