Free Hospital Transportation Offered to Needy

Times Staff Writer

Free transportation from Santa Monica and Venice to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is now available for qualified low-income patients, according to Emily Abel of the Santa Monica Health Action Coalition, a volunteer organization of health-care activists.

Dr. Rick Brown, a coalition board member, said the county provided a van to take patients to Harbor twice daily after coalition members met repeatedly with representatives of the county Department of Health Services. The van departs from the Burke Health Center, 2509 W. Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, and the Venice Sub-Center, 905 Venice Blvd., Venice.

Only those who have established eligibility for county health services may use the van.

Appointment Hours

Eligibility can be determined and appointments for transportation can be made by calling the Burke center at (213) 829-2911 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Reservations should be made at least two days in advance, although people without reservations will be seated if space is available.

Brown, an assistant professor at the UCLA School of Public Health, said the van has been assigned to the Burke center for a three-month trial.

Brown said that many people are unaware that they are eligible for county medical care at reduced fees or at no cost. He said that care and medications are provided free at county facilities if adjusted net monthly income is below $700 for one person, $900 for two, $1,000 for a family of three or $1,400 for a family of six. Health care also is free for people on general relief.

'Ability to Pay'

Assistance in applying for the county's "Ability to Pay" plan is also offered by the Los Angeles Homeless/Health Care Project, at 1829 W. 9th St., Los Angeles, telephone (213) 381-5666, Brown said.

Mary Lee Gray, senior deputy to Supervisor Deane Dana, said other alternatives are being considered as ways to eliminate the long trip from the Westside to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. They include contracting with other free health-care providers, such as the Venice Family Clinic or the Los Angeles Free Clinic; building a comprehensive health center in the Venice or Santa Monica area, or expanding the hours of the Burke Health Center. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The center has X-ray equipment and a laboratory and offers such services as immunization, diagnosis, family planning and preschool examinations, Gray said. Public nurses offer counseling and an obstetrician-gynecologist is on staff. Some minor operations can be done at the center.

People requiring other types of treatment, including emergency care and cancer therapy, must travel to Harbor-UCLA.

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