The nation’s largest county government is poised to move forward Tuesday with a plan that critics say could roll back innovative public health programs and compromise everything from infectious disease containment to the prevention of smoking, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases.
On August 11, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote on a proposed consolidation of three health agencies — the Department of Health Services (DHS), the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH). The plan has the backing of liberal supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, as well as their conservative colleague Mike Antonovich — all of whom argue that it will improve care but are opposed by an array of public health and mental health advocates.
“This consolidation has the potential to cripple public health,” said a high-ranking official with DPH, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Our friend showed up late in the evening from Northern California to spend a couple of days with us before pushing on in a long-planned vacation. But when I woke up the next morning, he had been up for hours. I found him surrounded by three screens and his cell phone – solving a tech problem for his company.
“Auspicious beginning of a vacation,” I said. “I thought you were supposed to leave all that behind.”
“Oh, no,” he said, “not at my pay level.”
And so it goes. “No rest for the weary and the wicked go free.” That was an oft repeated phrase an early mentor in work mumbled as he sipped on yet another cup of coffee and ran to yet another customer. He may have been obsessive and wired, but he only worked a 40-hour week. None of us worked more, except the boss now and then.