Saying that more than 6,000 needy residents will benefit, leaders from nine Orange County health clinics on Monday applauded a county plan to spend $2.79 million so the clinics can contract with doctors and hospitals to care for their patients.
Joan Furman, president of the Coalition of Orange County Community Clinics, said the funds will enable thousands of indigent patients to receive continuing, cost-effective care instead of landing in an emergency room when their condition is critical.
Still, she warned, "this is not a solution to the crisis but merely a footprint in the quicksand of health care."
Although the new money will allow about 1,000 more women to receive prenatal care this year, "my fear is that there are going to be more who do not get care than will get care," said Margie Fites Seigel, Planned Parenthood's executive director. She noted that at least 2,400 women were turned away from county-run clinics last year because of insufficient funds.
The Board of Supervisors distributed the funds, which come from a tax on tobacco, last week. Clinic leaders said they have no idea how the new services will continue when state legislation that authorized the 5-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes expires in June, 199l.
Of the $2.79 million, $393,000 will go to the community clinics, $1 million to physicians and $1.4 million to hospitals.
Among the new relationships:
* Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties has reached an agreement with UCI Medical Center in Orange to provide prenatal care to 200 women.
* Orange County Center for Health in Anaheim has contracted with two physician groups and three hospitals--Western Medical Center-Anaheim, St. Jude and Anaheim Memorial--for 300 obstetrical deliveries and 3,000 hospital stays for other medical services.
* La Amistad de Jose Clinic in Santa Ana for the first time will offer dental care two days a week to about 1,300 adults and children.