The League of Women Voters of Ventura County supports the Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC) as the essential element of the Ventura County Health Care Agency (HCA) which effectively maximizes the effieciency of the other units of that Agency (1998).
2006 Met with new hospital administrator and the head of the Behavioral Health Department, to discuss their plans for mental health facilities and the proposal to demolish the existing building serving mental health.
2005 Toured the hospital and members were shown the new laboratory, cafeteria and kitchen facilities.
2001 Wrote Board of Supervisors asking postponement of an agreement between the county and private hospitals regarding distribution of $900,000 of the county’s Master Settlement Agreement revenues so that we could discuss our concerns more fully with staff.
2000 Actively supported coalition opposing Measure O. Signed ballot measure opposing.
Presented opposition arguments to Ojai and Ventura City Councils. Measure O would have diverted $261 million in tobacco settlement money from county to private hospitals.
1998 Spoke to Board of Supervisors urging action be taken to correct deficiencies at the Medical Center.
1996 Held a forum educating voters on Measure M, a plan to expand medical facilities at VC Medical Center. The League had no position at that time so no action was taken pro or con on the measure.
Social Policy Position
Ventura County Health Care Agency
Specifics of Position
- Development of a plan for the maintenance and repair of VCMC so that it can continue to be effective in its role in the health care agency.
- Immediate action to correct the problems* that imperil VCMC’s continued operation, i.e.,
- dietary unit
- utility tunnels
For the 1997/98 local study, League members voted to study health care needs and resources in Ventura County. This study, determined to be too broad, was later focused more narrowly to cover only the Ventura County Health Care Agency. The Health Care Agency consists of the following:
- The ambulatory care department, which has nine satellite clinics in communities around the county and fourteen campus (near the hospital) clinics and serves as a major source of outpatient health care for the county’s indigent population and those who do not have access to private physicians.
- The behavioral/mental health department, which was transferred out of the HCA system** subsequent to the League study.
- The medical examiner/coroner, who determines causes of deaths and issues death certificates.
- The public health department, which runs a variety of programs (forty-five were listed in the 1997 directory of services) and reaches many individuals in the county (close to 300,000 in 1995/96).
- The Ventura County health care plan, which is a health maintenance organization for county employees, retirees and satellite clinic employees.
- VCMC, with 152 beds plus 35 newborn beds and all the usual services of an acute care hospital.
VCMC was of particular interest to the study committee because a county plan for consolidation and modernization of some of its units was defeated by the electorate in March, 1996, after an election in which a great deal of money was spent lobbying against the ballot
measure by Community Memorial Hospital which is also located in the City of Ventura. It was also of interest because of the highly regarded family practice residency program which it provides in conjunction with UCLA; because so many counties have closed their county hospitals; and because we wanted to learn more about services to the poor.
In reviewing the 1996/97 Grand Jury Report, we found that the county would lose a great deal in state and federal funding if the hospital were to close. We were told that the smaller counties with fewer hospital patients are the ones which have closed their hospitals. We reviewed HCA publications which stated that VCMC serves more Medi-Cal and indigent patients than all other hospitals in the county combined–really serving as a safety net for the poor. We agreed that the HCA had been very forward looking when it started its de-emphasis of inpatient care and reached out to the communities by opening satellite clinics. This also
decreased expensive emergency room visits. A league tour of facilities, the Grand Jury Report, and interviews all pointed to the necessity for an upgrading of the laboratory, the dietary facilities, and the utility tunnels so that the hospital will be able to retain its certification. The Grand Jury Report from 1996/97 contains recommendations for action on the same items as are in our consensus,
but the problems remain. Our conclusions were that the hospital is an important resource for the community, especially for its services to the poor, and that its continued operation must be ensured.
*As of late 2005, the deficiencies that were mentioned in Specifics of Position had been corrected.
**The behavioral/mental health department has now been moved back to HCA. (2005)