* I am a recent retiree from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. I was privileged to serve as the San Fernando regional director and later as the medical director for the North County Health Centers. Combined, I held these positions for nearly 20 years. In addition to my experience in the Valley, I spent eight years with the Bureau of Child Health.
I take great pride in having worked for the Department of Health Services and I am only one of many such people. We have survived budget curtailments, natural disasters and hiring freezes; we have prevailed. We have adjusted the system to ensure the provision of high-quality health care services for our patients.
In addition to having staff that includes highly qualified direct patient care providers and support staff, we train skilled professionals while providing services for approximately 4 million patient visits annually at a cost that is far less than many other similar organizations.
This health care delivery system is worth preserving. It is essential that the public recognize that services provided by the Department of Health Services impact everyone's life. Without timely and adequate health care, individuals often require expensive and extensive treatment and hospitalization that could be prevented. Taxpayers pay more. Without public health services, communicable diseases can spread out of control.
Diseases like TB, the incidence of which has drastically increased in recent years, do not distinguish those individuals with private insurance from those that get care from the county. The federal, state and county governments as well as the communities must take action to assist in preserving the system. Clearly, some change is required and inevitable. However, Los Angeles residents cannot afford to have the county's health care system dismantled. Who else will treat illness among those who have nowhere else to go? How else will communicable diseases be controlled?
DORRIS M. HARRIS MD
* Re "Supervisors' Spending Plan a Gamble Again," news analysis, Aug. 3:
Are the gutless wonders who run Los Angeles County insane? Or just in denial? I don't pay my rent with promises, nor should they fund their operations with promises. If the citizens of L.A. handled their finances the way the Board of Supervisors does, we'd all be clogging the bankruptcy courts.
I don't think drastic reductions in indigent health care are the answer, either. What if TB starts to rear its ugly head again (more than it has) and the indigent population can't get health care? Who do you think is going to get TB next? The middle class and the upper class. All because they didn't want to pay more in taxes and it wasn't "politically popular" for the supervisors to suggest it. Where will we be then?
The county no longer owns anything from what I understand. We're in hock to whomever. And if the bond rating for L.A. County goes down and it costs more to borrow, won't we be paying more anyway in interest costs? To use an old adage, you get what you pay for--every time. And if you don't pay anything, watch out, it can come back to bite you, each and every time.
CHARLES W. LAWRY
* We can build 19 instead of the proposed 20 additional B-2 stealth bombers for the best-equipped military every known. The transfer of these funds alone will halt the devastation to Los Angeles County. After all, doesn't self-defense include providing sufficient law enforcement and firefighting services; jobs for loyal employees to meet their food, clothing and shelter needs, and hospitals for the sick and dying?
ROLAND M. KONCAN
* I'm sure you don't want or need to hear how to solve your problems from someone in Orange County, but, listen to me. Don't wait as long as we did to remove those in charge of your financial debacle. Out with the rascals.