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Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

It’s not a sexy story, but don’t let anyone sucker you into using bad info on the hospital-closings crisis.
A quick pre-note before we explore the REAL facts behind the emerging mega-story about why so many hospitals are closing down all over California, but especially in Los Angeles.

The pre-note is really a post script to say that the debacle we witnessed the past couple of weeks involving the phony documents and the CBS/Dan Rather story on George Bush’s National Guard service is effectively over, for now.

You can’t beat a dead horse, but with the miracles of political medicine (spin) today, CBS and Rather WILL live to see another day, though it will be a while. Viewers and others do not like to be lied to or played for patsies. However, because we live in an age where there is ALWAYS somebody available to stand up for ANYBODY on ANY issue, no matter how misguided that support may seem, whatever shame should fall upon the House of the Black Eye has probably already begun to evaporate, slowly.

It will be a while before some of us will ever trust CBS and for others, they will NEVER return to that network for serious, quality news programming. And it SHOULD be that way. The CBS folks burned themselves and let us never forget what such sloppiness yields. Yet, there will always be the one-eyed partisan monsters that saw nothing wrong in what CBS did and they never will. Just make sure you never cast a vote for a member of that lot or you will screw up this country beyond anything we have seen to date. Yes, politics is a sick business and it has never been so close to a comma as it is in the presidential race today.

Speaking of sickness (how’s that for a transition line?), we have to be extra careful these days about where we are when we become ill or get injured, because we never know how far we have to go to find a REAL hospital. The other night, my wife and I visited a restaurant about 15 miles from home. As we approached the area, the main thoroughfare was closed off by police because of a major accident right in front of a hospital.

I thought to myself how lucky the accident victims were to be directly in front of a hospital with an emergency room at such a critical time. Imagine how shocked I was, as we approached the area, to see a Life Flight helicopter lifting off the boulevard. I asked a police officer why a chopper was needed when there was a large hospital 100 feet away. He told me the hospital had closed its emergency room a few months ago so the chopper would have to try and find a hospital willing to accept the accident victims.

Unfortunately, as serious and difficult as the hospital and emergency room closures have become, there are those who are trying to hood-wink the news media into dumping the majority of the blame for the closings on one issue, illegal immigration,

It’s a “wedge issue”, as we say, a hot button in the world of politics, but a check of the REAL facts shows the closure issue is much more complex.

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with a man whose job it is to try and keep hospitals open and I learned the WHOLE truth behind the incredible increase in hospital and emergency room closures. He is Jim Lott, the Executive Vice President of the Healthcare Association of Southern California.

He says the root of the closure problem is that too many people needing medical care do not have health insurance. Along with rising medical costs, a tremendous shortage of nurses and sky-rocketing malpractice insurance costs, hospitals are being strangled by dynamics that didn’t exist 20 years ago. And what percentage of the problem is caused by illegal immigrants seeking medical care, or having babies, as immigrant critics like to tell us? Lott says it is about 20% of the problem and he cautions against focusing too much attention on it as the root cause. He says to do so is to waste valuable time and resources on addressing the totality of the problem.

Although a lack of health insurance is the MAJOR problem here, there apparently is no one in the world of politics power willing to do anything about it. One in every four in L.A County is uninsured. Medical bills can run as high as a quarter million dollars per patient, depending on the health issue or wound, and the length of time in the hospital. That’s why we are hearing about astronomical losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars that are forcing the emergency room and hospital closures.

Every 58 seconds in Los Angeles, paramedics are called to an emergency and there are too few ambulances, too many victims and not enough hospitals, to handle the tremendous overload. When they roll on a call and find they have to transport someone on the verge of dying, they literally have to “shop” for a hospital willing to take their trauma patients. Availability of care is more limited than ever and when you factor in the additional travel times to available hospitals, other sick or injured patients are suffering even more and waiting for an ambulance.

Between traditional sickness, accidents, and the continued onslaught of gang shootings, we are in deep trouble. We have a broken system and we lack the political will in California, at the local, regional and stated level, to solve it.

Emergency services and a trauma center are no longer there when you need them at the drop of a hat. We are talking about a crisis fueled not only by a lack of health insurance, but one where the majority of those affected are not just the poor, destitute, and illegal immigrant, but rather, middle income America.

We need to double our efforts to tell our audiences about the critical condition of our medical facilities. At the same town, however, we must make sure we are doing everything possible to alert Joe and Sally Six-pack to the ugly reality of their medical care system.

Let’s make sure we tell the entire story and ask the hard questions about fixing the broken trauma care system of the people in politics. For example, too many in the media have tip-toed around the issue of the pending closure of the massive King/Drew Medical Center in South L.A. This place has been in comma for decades, but the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has never been pressed to take care of business and fix the place. Therefore, it’s been ignored.

Now, the majority of the Board has met in secret to plan how to avoid the public’s scorn over the mess at King/Drew. We CAN and must credit those in the media who have covered this story tight and pursued the facts like a pit bull. But we must also report on the largess of those who never address a major public policy issue until a gun is put to their heads.

As a society, we now face the prospects of returning to a 1950’s level of service when we become ill or injured. A total collapse of the system is not far away, and we risk turning L.A. and much of California into a real third-world if politicians can find cover from the news media.

I know there are those who say L.A. is already a third-world city because of illegal immigration and its melting pot characteristics, so how could it get worse. Does the movie “Blade Runner” ring a bell?