UCI Medical Center: Quality Care in a Teaching Hospital
Having been associated with the Orange County Medical Center and the UC Irvine Medical Center for 20 years, I was particularly pleased with the recent articles on the quality of the medical care and devotion of the medical and support services at UCIMC.
Those of us who have been affiliated with this institution for many years have labored long and hard to improve the quality of the care rendered to the patients who have come to our doorstep.
Unfortunately, not all people involved in the finances of the institution are interested in quality. Many are willing to sacrifice quality for dollars. I wonder how many of these people (the Board of Supervisors included) would want quality compromised when they were seriously ill and in an institution such as UCIMC!
The state and Orange County are abrogating their responsibility for the care of the indigent by their insistence on lower pay than is realistic to the university hospital. That is basically the reason UCIMC is so deeply in debt. Yes, the university institution could operate more efficiently, but when you are teaching 600 interns and residents, you must accept the fact that there is going to be some inefficiency.
On the other hand, the UC Board of Regents must accept the fact that it cannot operate a university hospital at the same efficiency level as a private institution.
I think both parties have to give a little to face up to the fact that there is no other institution in the county that is going to care for these people, and certainly no institution that is going to care for them as well as UCIMC.
If the state doesn’t give the county supervisors enough money and if the supervisors don’t allot enough tax money to care for the indigents, then the taxpayers will have to pay for their care, and that money basically comes out of all of our pockets.
I hope and pray that we will never be asked to compromise quality because of the fiscal irresponsibility at the state and local levels.
SANFORD H. ANZEL, M.D.
Sanford H. Anzel is a clinical professor in the division of orthopedic surgery at UCI Medical Center.