78.5 F
San Fernando
Saturday, May 21, 2022

Lancaster Looks to Form Health Agency

The city of Lancaster took a hammer to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, first backing a vote of no confidence in its director, Barbara Ferrer, then commissioning a study on how to form a separate public health department.The actions come after the county decision to implement stay-at-home orders on Nov. 27, which includes the closure of outdoor dining.“It’s not a small thing. We are driving people into bankruptcy. The bill is going to come due and they won’t be able to pay that mortgage, they still owe the money. We’ve destroyed the economic fabric of most families because of this, and needlessly,” Mayor Rex Parris told the Business Journal.“When the question was asked, ‘What evidence are you basing this on, what fact do you have, what data have you collected, before you rode these people out of business? She didn’t have an answer,” he continued, referring to the outdoor dining ban. “And then she blamed it on the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Well, the CDC has never said that outdoor dining was impermissible.”Public health officials did not respond to requests for comment by the Business Journal.L.A. County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled in early December that the county should not be allowed to ban outdoor dining indefinitely, adding that leadership would need to provide a risk-benefit analysis to support its continuation. The county later appealed Chalfant’s decision.Palmdale and Santa Clarita have joined Lancaster in seeking more autonomy from the Public Health Department, and L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has been supportive of the area seeking an alternative route, Parris said.The Lancaster mayor, owner of Parris Law Firm, said a situation like this has been a long time coming, and that the pandemic has accelerated a dissatisfaction with the county’s public health department.“We’re the stepchild of the county,” added Parris. “We have the highest mortality for preventable diseases anywhere in the county, and that has been true for 20 years. If you’re a Black man with kidney disease and you move to the Antelope Valley, you will die 10 years earlier than if you stayed in L.A.”Parris added that there is no needle exchange program in the area, and that the Antelope Valley has the highest number of foster children of anywhere in the county.“I think it’s like 20 percent of all the county, they send them up here, without appropriate health care for them,” he added.Currently, Lancaster is hiring consultants to determine if full autonomy would be worth the cost. Parris conceded that starting a health department would be a “huge expense.”“Maybe the way to do it is a joint powers agreement between the three cities and the county, and just sever this portion of the county off from L.A. County Public Health,” he explained. “What I would prefer is we change the governing structure of L.A. (County) Public Health so there is a local influence that predominates over the countywide view of things.”Lancaster is part of a trend. Similar to the Antelope Valley’s attitude toward L.A. County, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties want independence with respect to state regulations for COVID-19.The less populous Southern California counties are working to become their own region for pandemic restrictions.“What is hard about recognizing that different communities have different needs and finding the best way to address those — why the resistance?” Parris asked “People love to have empires … they don’t want to share it. As a result, we get less and less efficient and people suffer more.”

Featured Articles

Related Articles