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Emergency Rooms Closing

May 13, 1988

In a modern complex society there are a number of services which citizens have a right to expect from government whether they can afford to pay for them or not. These now include police and fire protection and should also include emergency medical care. Your editorial "Dying Shame" (May 5) describes the progressive demise of one the nation's outstanding emergency care networks.

One hundred years ago citizens were expected to pay for private fire protection. In 1988, can anyone even imagine the catastrophe that would have occurred in the Interstate Bank Tower if we had not progressed to publicly funded universally available emergency police and fire services?

If that fire had occurred during the daytime, or if there were any number of other disasters, including the long forecasted big earthquake, we would and predictably will need all the emergency medical services we can get.

Doctors join all other responsible citizens in agreeing that lifesaving medical care is a right, not a privilege. Government, state and federal, must accept some of the fiscal responsibility for making sure that the most fundamental of medical life-preserving programs, emergency rooms and trauma centers, are not lost!

ARTHUR D. SILK, M.D.

Garden Grove

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