News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.

Thank You Mitch!

We kicked off Tuesday’s Board meeting with warm and well-deserved praise for the outgoing Health Agency Director, Dr. Mitch Katz,  who is taking his immense talents, his bicycle, and his signature Crocs back to his hometown of New York next month.

I honestly can’t thank Mitch enough for his extraordinary vision and leadership, and for helping set us on the path of effectively transforming our health systems into a truly integrated system of care.

Improving Care for LA County Patients

The Affordable Care Act has been a critical factor in decreasing the number of uninsured in the County. For “safety net” healthcare providers, such as the Department of Health Services (DHS), greater numbers of insured individuals present an opportunity for the County to become a provider of choice for individuals seeking care.

Regardless of a person’s ability to pay, DHS has been consistently able to provide quality medical care to patients. However, the volume of individuals who have relied on DHS for healthcare services has caused lengthy wait times on the phone, and at locations awaiting care. A reduction in uninsured individuals means that DHS can now focus on strategies to decrease time-to-answer for calls, increase the number of patients scheduled for an appointment within 24 hours, and improve the care experience overall.

I am pleased to report that we approved a motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn that instructs the Acting Director of Health Services to provide a quarterly report to the Board on improving patient access and availability at DHS. This will be an important step toward DHS becoming a provider of choice in the County and enhancing care for all patients.

Rooster Storage Restriction

Cockfighting is an illegal, dangerous, and cruel practice that poses significant hazards to the animals and people involved in the sport. Keeping too many birds in close proximity produces unwanted noise, attracts pests, and can spread disease such as the avian flu. Additionally, cockfighting is often accompanied by gambling, drug use, weapons, and other illegal activities.

Back in May, the largest seizure of illegal cockfighting birds in US history occurred in the unincorporated area of Val Verde. While the County has taken measures to find and seize as many of these operations as possible, there are too many that continue to go undetected. Therefore, I co-authored a motion with Supervisor Barger that will impose an ordinance to restrict or limit the keeping of roosters in unincorporated areas of the County. The motion requests a report back from the Director of Animal Care and Control and County Counsel within 30 days on a recommendation on ways to impose this restriction.

Read LA County, Read!

The LA County Public Library has always supported efforts to engage children and families with materials that inspire, educate, and spark the imagination. At our meeting on Tuesday, we took a step to make sure that our kids know about and are able to access these fantastic resources.

We approved a motion by Supervisors Hahn and Solis that will create a fine-free library card for all students aged 17 and younger in the County. This is part of our larger effort to participate in the National Library Card Challenge to ensure that every child enrolled in school has access to public library resources. To increase awareness of the new card, County Public Library staff will launch an engagement program that includes school visits and a survey for teachers. As part of its initial outreach, they will issue library cards to every third grade student in the service area.

Support for Wildfire Victims

Beginning on December 5, some of the largest wildfires in history ravaged significant parts of the County. The San Fernando Creek Fire, Santa Clarita Rye Fire, and Westside Skirball Fire tore through plantlife and surrounding neighborhoods, causing hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate, immediate danger to wildlife, and the destruction of many homes and businesses.

This Board is absolutely committed to providing as much support as possible to all who have been affected as a result of these devastating events. Therefore, we approved a motion authored by myself and Supervisor Barger that requests a thorough assessment from the CEO and the Director of the Office of Emergency Management on the effects of the fires. The report will include an analysis of damages to County and Flood Control District infrastructure, and also requests an expedited process for issuing building permits to residents whose homes were damaged.

Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by the fires. We will continue to take actions that will provide support and relief to all the victims.