GNP Reports on AYF Opposition to Clinic Privatization
Health center may go private
Community members attend forum discussing the future of Glendale clinic.
By Max Zimbert
Published: Last Updated Sunday, February 21, 2010 9:14 PM PST
SOUTH GLENDALE Nurses, union members and community activists attended a community forum Saturday to hear about the fate of Glendale Health Center, a mostly primary care facility with a staff capable of speaking six languages.
The clinic is on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors list of public facilities that could be privatized in the wake of a $200-million deficit.
County supervisors are not considering reductions now, but continue to evaluate the costs and benefits of ceding operational control of some facilities to private companies.
What the board is interested in knowing is can we establish a partnership with a community provider where patients can get the same access level of care, quality services and where agencies can provide all the culture competency needed in this community . . . and can it be done with cost savings? said Cheri Todoroff, deputy director of planning and program oversight for the county Department of Health Services.
Those answers could be released in the next few months, Todoroff said.
The board is only interested if we can bring them a solution where there is no reduction of services and theres cost savings, she said. Another important thing to note is, no county employees would lose their jobs . . . if this were to go forward.
County guarantees were not enough to offset Kyung Baks patients, she said in an interview Saturday.
Ive asked patients, and they dont want to go private, the registered nurse said. They like us. Theyve known us for a long time, and we know their problems.
Many of the roughly 50 forum participants said their lack of information was a key reason they attended.
Theyve done nothing to inform our community, said Serouj Aprahamian, the executive director of the western chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation, a 500-member nonprofit. Our No. 1 focus is to get the information out there from all sides, but theres definitely a concern that privatization would hurt peoples access to health care.
Clinic staff members speak English, Spanish, Armenian, Korean, Russian and Tagalog and serves an overwhelming number of uninsured and elderly patients who do not qualify for Medicare, said officials from SEIU Local 721, a union of Southern California public employees.
The place is pretty unique, said Bob Schoonover, president of the union chapter. It may not have been planned that way, but its something to be proud of and not something to get rid of.
Reducing services is not on the countys agenda, Todoroff said.
For the board to consider solutions, we want to know patients are going to have just as good access to care as they have in Glendale, she said.
One of two potential suitors for the Glendale clinic has no staff members who speak Armenian, Aprahamian said.
Linguistic services are critical, he said. Its like barring [Armenian-speaking patients] from getting health care because its such a difficult process.
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