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Home Articles The Partisan Partisan Number 21 The fight is on for health care in South Los Angeles

The fight is on for health care in South Los Angeles

by Rosalio Muñoz

On August 16th, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to begin the process of dismantling King/Drew Medical Center, the major community medical facility for South Los Angeles. They have set a state-mandated hearing for October 18 to formally "consider" the decision they have already basically made. This is racism clear and simple and the vote of three white men versus two women of color made it even clearer.

This decision was made despite opposition from nearly 100 people (including two members of Congress, a City Council member and many doctors and nurses), as well as a recommendation against from their own hand-picked "advisory committee" of people with expertise in hospital administration.

This can still be turned back. The progressive African American community is still fighting to stop the dismantling of King/Drew Medical Center. They will need the rest of the progressive community to rally county wide to have a chance.

The community's defense

The LA Times and the white supervisors insist that a major reason for the problems at the hospital is the community's narrow minded defense. This is pure nonsense. Without the African American community's fight for equality there would never have been a hospital there, and without the continuing fight the hospital would have been completely gone long ago.

Why do I say this? Well just look at the private sector health facilities in the area, You can't because there virtually are none. The private sector is the one that is failing so what do the supervisors do? They close down the public facilities too.

The health planning area for most of South LA is called Service Planning Area (SPA) 6. Countywide the SPA areas average about 10 hospitals. In SPA 6 there are two: King/Drew just south of the 105 in the heart of the Watts-Willowbrook area and the small Metropolitan Hospital by the 10 Freeway on Western, almost in Koreatown.

The latest proposal would cut out pediatrics and obstetrical care. Why? The county health department points out that 18% of the children are uninsured but 36% of the adults are uninsured. In a private sector driven political atmosphere this makes sense: there is more money to be made off the kids by the private sector outside the community, so send the kids off.

The trauma center

In SPA 6, 60% of the people are Latinos and 36% African American. Up until lately the only part of the hospital that serviced others consistently was the trauma center because of the accidents on the nearby freeways. Closing the trauma center thus undercut a broader client base for the hospital as a whole.

If the public sector health system can be dismantled in South LA, then it is doomed elsewhere. If the public sector services go, the public service union jobs will go too.

We all need to support and join with the Coalition to Save King/Drew. The Latino, Asian Pacific, Jewish and other white progressives need to be there with the African American community. The labor movement has to can unify themselves and help unify others. Our new mayor and county labor federation leaders should be helping. Progressives on the West Side and the San Fernando Valley have to do their part to stop the cuts and restore the trauma center.

Peace & Freedom Party registrant Rosalio Muñoz is Southern California District Organizer for the Communist Party U.S.A.
 
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