County Hospitals Begin Outpatient Service Cuts

Five Los Angeles County hospitals Tuesday began implementing a 9.5% cut in outpatient services to the poor--an action that health officials said will result in longer waits for treatment.

The cuts were ordered earlier this month by the Board of Supervisors in response to a shortfall in state funding. They will result in a reduction of 11,508 outpatient visits a month to County-USC, Harbor-UCLA, Martin Luther King-Drew, Rancho Los Amigos and Olive View medical centers, health officials said.

The length of the wait will depend on the clinic. At County-USC's surgery clinic, which evaluates patients before and after surgery, patients who currently wait eight weeks face a 12-week wait, said a health department spokesman.

County Health Director Robert Gates told supervisors the cuts will cause 100 layoffs.

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