We, the nursing care specialists of 5P21 at County-USC, read "To Live and Die in L.A." (by David Ferrell, Aug. 12) with mixed emotions. The caseload for each RN is as high as 200 patients. We do not have one full-time MD. Instead, we must work with a dozen or more part-time medical doctors and three full-time physician assistants. We have quickly outgrown the space provided for us and now find ourselves in competition with other clinics for space. Critically ill patients are frequently found on stretchers in the hallways.
The waiting time for appointments and prescriptions is long. There is no parking available for the outpatient clients. They must walk up a very steep hill for as much as half a mile before they get to the outpatient building. Many of the patients must take lengthy bus rides. These are just the logistic problems.
The physical, emotional, social and psychological impacts of the virus are tragic. Families are torn apart. Parents, wives, husbands and children see their significant others waste away and die. The patients lose their dignity and freedom. Their life expectancy decreases, and they are forced to confront a lonely, terrible death. Every patient we work with must be told, "How soon we can't say, but you will die because of this infection."