Archived: EDITORIAL: Free Urgent Care – Are you Kidding


The ongoing acrimonious battle over health insurance will most probably result in nothing of substance being done about our huge number of uninsured. Those who have insurance and use it don’t care about those who don’t. Those who don’t have health insurance will be left to their own devices simply because they are supposedly part of the lower class portion of our society, and that’s the way it is.

But that was not the way it was during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Many residents in the City of Angels are either to young or to new to Los Angeles to recall a time when free urgent care facilities that provided care to anyone who walked in their doors were scattered throughout the city.

We remember.

The urgent care centers, including one that was located in Lincoln Heights where the Boys and Girls Club is now located, were operated during a time when Los Angeles had its own health department. The free facilities had a doctor and nurse to tend to patients; an ambulance was also stationed at the facility to transport patients with more serious health problems from the facility to the nearest emergency room if needed.

Sprained fingers, arms, legs, etc. were taped up. People who had banged their heads were examined by the doctor to see if they needed further treatment; minor colds, stomach aches and rashes were quickly tended to.

No prescription drugs were provided, but prescriptions were. If necessary, patients were referred to their doctor if they needed a follow up visit.

No one was turned away because of their color, ethnicity or because they might not be clean. Today we have many community clinics scattered throughout the city that could be expanded at less cost than building a new facility, and could fill the need for less expensive urgent care. This network of community clinics/urgent care facilities could be expanded so as to bring relief to our hospital emergency rooms, where the cost to see and treat patients is often more than three times the cost of care at a community clinic.

Of course we believe a solution as simple as this would probably become mired in today’s extreme political atmosphere, or heaven forbid, it may result in a few undocumented immigrants receiving some minimal level of care.

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