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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

L.A. County Abandons Those Most Vulnerable

November 03, 2002

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors' decision to stop funding the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center is a short-term solution that will do very little to resolve the anticipated budget shortfall ("County OKs Hospital Cuts," Oct. 30). Instead, it will leave thousands of paraplegic, quadriplegic and other ill and disabled patients without the resources essential to their rehabilitation. Sure, no one could have predicted a year ago that by 2006 the L.A. County Health Department would be approximately $700 million in the red.

And I agree with the supervisors that difficult decisions must be made -- but not at the expense of the most vulnerable members of our society. Taking it out on spinal cord-injured patients is nothing short of cruel and cowardly. I would have expected more sympathy and compassion from the supervisors who voted for this. It sends the wrong message about our priorities as residents of Los Angeles. The whole objective of a rehabilitation center is to prepare individuals to reenter society on their own, to be productive members of society. Without the services of Rancho Los Amigos, some will be forced to leave Southern California for other private hospitals, and hundreds of others will have to resort to acute care or be left without care at all. I urge the Board of Supervisors to reconsider its vote and take a different course of action.

Noel Hacegaba

Hacienda Heights

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