Letters to the Editor: L.A. County medical workers deserve better coverage from The Times

The main hospital of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Boyle Heights is shown.
The main hospital of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Boyle Heights.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Every day, even in the face of a global pandemic, the incredible heroes who work in the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) put themselves in harm’s way to care for patients. It is unfortunate that the Los Angeles Times’ investigation of the tragic deaths of patients awaiting specialty care disparaged the work of some of those heroes.

Annually, the DHS safety net system provides care in nearly 2 million outpatient and more than 55,000 inpatient encounters. Yet, the L.A. Times went as far back as nine years to focus on four tragic patient cases out of these millions of encounters.

The county’s revolutionary eConsult system, which was portrayed unflatteringly by The Times, enables specialty care answers in hours or days rather than weeks. Failing to include these rapid eConsult answers in calculated access time biases the data.


Our community, our patients and the heroes who work for DHS deserve better than the coverage provided by The Times.

Jorge Orozco and Brad Spellberg, MD, Los Angeles

The writers are, respectively, chief executive and chief medical officer of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.


To the editor: As a family physician, I have cared for thousands of uninsured and underinsured patients. Long delays for specialty care are among the many threats to my patients’ health. Another problem is geographic access to care.

There are few specialists who accept managed care Medi-Cal patients, and even fewer in the community who accept unassigned Medi-Cal patients. As a result, my patients sometimes need to travel very long distances to see a specialist.

Finally, when one of my patients finally gets to see the specialist, they are afforded precious little time since that doctor has to work on volume to stay in business since reimbursement is low. Similarly, we often don’t get any cohesive communication or plan of care from the specialist, presumably because it would be too time consuming and expensive to send us a complete consultation note.

The only cure for this condition is universal healthcare.

Anne Arikian, MD, Los Angeles