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County Choice on Health Care

Measure B would help preserve trauma and emergency centers

October 28, 2002|Zev Yaroslavsky

Each of us -- whether rich or poor, insured or uninsured -- is only one car crash, street crime or industrial accident away from a trauma center or emergency room.

Measure B on the Nov. 5 ballot offers Los Angeles County voters a choice: to preserve the county's lifesaving network of trauma and emergency services or hasten the day of its collapse.

Trauma care uses highly trained surgeons, state-of-the-art equipment and a rapid-response paramedic system to rescue people who could die within that "golden hour" following their accident.

Take, for example, victims like Treve Broudy and Benjamin Kadish.

Broudy, 33, of West Hollywood, was beaten into a coma with a baseball bat last month. But for the fact that he was only minutes away from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's trauma center, he might be dead.

Benjamin was 5 when he was shot and gravely wounded in the vicious 1999 attack by a white supremacist at the North Valley Jewish Community Center. A paramedic arrived within minutes and took Benjamin to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center's trauma center.

The county trauma network had 22 centers in 1985. Today it has withered to 13, and large swaths of the Antelope Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and the Pomona Valley are functionally without trauma services.

Measure B's modest charge, which amounts to an annual increase of $42 on a 1,400-square-foot home, is less a tax than it is a supplement to our health insurance premiums.

A recent study by a Harvard researcher found that advances in trauma care reduced the national murder rate by saving assault victims who otherwise would have become homicide victims.

We are told that health care is a national issue, that state and federal officials aren't paying their fair share, that county taxpayers shouldn't have to shoulder the burden. True enough, in a perfect world. But in this world, politicians fiddle while our health-care system burns.

On Nov. 5, we can regain some control over our destiny before it's too late.

Measure B can help ensure that our trauma and emergency services will be there if we need them. Because in a few terrible seconds, the next Treve Broudy or Benjamin Kadish could be you or me.

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Zev Yaroslavsky is chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

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