Los Angeles County Public Works Department Prepares to Take Over Sativa Water District

Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to authorize the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (DPW) to enter into an agreement with the California Water Resources Control Board to serve as interim administrator of the troubled Sativa Water District.

“Residents of Willowbrook and Compton have had to endure brown water coming out of their taps for years, because of Sativa’s mismanagement,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “With DPW in charge, these customers will finally have the competent water service provider they deserve.”

He added DPW is well suited for the role of interim administrator, given its extensive experience operating systems across the County. It currently operates 68,000 service connections, serving approximately 245,000 people.

“This is a victory for the people,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “By putting the LA County Department of Public Works in charge, residents will finally have a capable, trustworthy water provider they can count on. There is a lot more work that needs to be done but we are in it for the long-haul for the customers of Sativa.”

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, who has held town hall meetings with Sativa customers who had brown water coming out of their taps, welcomed the vote.

“I wholeheartedly support the Board of Supervisors’ motion to authorize the LA County Department of Public Works as interim administrator for the Sativa Water District,” she said. “Federal, state and local government must work together to ensure that improvements to the water system are made, that all public funds that went to Sativa are accounted for, and that residents have clean water and are given sufficient information about their service provider.”

On Sept. 28, Governor Jerry Brown signed LA County-sponsored legislation, AB 1577 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, empowering the Water Board to order Sativa to accept an interim administrator until a replacement water service provider can be identified for the long-term.

As interim administrator, DPW would assess the condition of the existing water facilities and identify any necessary and timely improvements to ensure safe drinking water is available to Sativa customers. It will also work closely with the Water Board to ensure that water quality meets all regulatory standards.

Ribbon Cut on Harbor-UCLA Medical Center KIDS Hub Clinic

Ribbon Cutting at KIDS Hub Clinic at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. All photos by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

On September 12, 2018, Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas joined with leaders from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the Department of Health Services to cut the ribbon on the newly constructed KIDS Hub Clinic at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. The KIDS Hub provides services to children from birth through age 18 who involved with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the ribbon cutting at September 12, 2018.

“Today, we recognize, honor, and celebrate the critical services provided by our Pediatric Hub system for vulnerable children throughout the County,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Simply stated: children matter, children come first, and our duty is to be there for them.”

The KIDS Hub provides state-of-the-art expert assessment while reducing trauma to the child victims and their families and evaluates. “The expert medical, forensic evaluations and developmental assessments we provide to identify child abuse and neglect for children involved with DCFS, are key to identifying and protecting at-risk children,” said Kelly Callahan, MD, KIDS Hub Medical Director.

The Harbor-UCLA Medical Center KIDS Hub provides services to children from birth up to age 18, who involved with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). It is part of a Los Angeles County Department of Health Services network of Hub clinics, designed to serve this particularly vulnerable population.

“We are thrilled to recognize the completion of the newest of DHS’ six Hub Clinics. Through our partnerships with the Departments of Mental Health and Children and Family Services, the Hub Clinics provide a vital link to medical care, forensic exams and other health services for the most vulnerable children in our communities,” said Christina Ghaly, MD, Acting Director of Health Services.

The KIDS Hub operates in partnership with the Los Angeles County Departments of Children and Family Services and Mental Health. “DMH is very excited about the expansion and enrichment of the KIDS Hub,” said Jon Sherin, MD, Director of Mental Health. “This additional resource is a critical component of our foster care network and will be an essential part of our ongoing work to prevent and mitigate trauma for children and their families.”

Supporting Suicide Prevention for First Responders

First responders supporting suicide prevention at the Board of Supervisors meeting on September 11, 2018. All photos by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

“I would like to thank my colleagues, Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, for their leadership on bringing forth this motion.

“Addressing the mental health and wellbeing of those on the front lines is critically important and a good way to honor the heroism of the public servants who responded to the call for help on 9/11.

“A recent report by the Ruderman Family Foundation says it all: the number of firefighters and law enforcement officers who took their own lives outnumbered all line-of-duty deaths in 2017.

“Suicide is just one of many troubling outcomes linked to the traumatic experiences of our first responders and emergency professionals. Depression and substance abuse are others.

“This Board has committed to violence prevention as a public health issue, and to address community trauma before it spirals.

“That is why we recently opened the Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Public Health, to tackle the root issues of complex trauma.

“Now, we have an opportunity to apply these same principles to support those who serve us.

“When our first responders are taken care of, it not only impacts their health and their families – it also impacts the service they provide to County residents.

“Therefore, I am compelled and equally proud to vote “aye” in support of our first responders, emergency services professionals and death investigators.”

First responders stand in favor of suicide prevention at the September 11, 2018 Board of Supervisors meeting.

 

New Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center

(left to right) Willowbrook Resident & Volunteers of America Prevention Coordinator Ebony Luchien, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Dr. Jan B. King. All photos by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas along with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and community partners unveiled the new Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Public Health. The Healing Center will serve a community that experiences the highest rates of assault-related trauma and homicide in Los Angeles County. Homicide rates in South Los Angeles are nearly four times higher than the rest of the county.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas addresses over 100 attendees at the Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center unveiling.

“The Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center shows the County’s commitment not just to treating trauma after it occurs, but also to preventing it in the first place,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Our efforts represent a paradigm shift in how we address violence. Rather than managing violence solely through public safety approaches, we are counteracting it using evidence-based public health practices.”

The Healing Center was developed with input from community leaders to ensure that the services provided reflect the community’s desires and focus on both healing and organizing for change. Support was provided by various agencies including the Los Angeles County Departments of Public Health, Health Services and Mental Health, MLK Community Hospital, MLK Outpatient Services, Saint Francis Medical Center, and Charles R. Drew University. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Bureau of Victim Services and members of the Community Action for Peace also participated in the development of the Healing Center.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas high fives Dr. Barbara Ferrer during a tour of the Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center during its opening.

“The Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center provides a safe space where residents can access support and services, where young people can develop their leadership skills, and where community partners can work together to tackle the root causes of complex trauma in South Los Angeles,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Los Angeles County Public Health.

The Healing Center will build upon Trauma Prevention Initiative strategies in partnership with the community to create a comprehensive approach to violence prevention and intervention. For the past 3 years, the Trauma Prevention Initiative has been investing in community engagement and key violence intervention and capacity-building strategies to coordinate strategies across the lifespan, leverage resources of existing programs and develop innovative strategies, policies, partnerships, and strategic opportunities.

Health Equity Action Plan Launched

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined with the Los Angeles County Health Agency and community organizations in announcing the release of a new plan that promotes health equity countywide.

Over the next five years, the Health Agency and other partners to sustain efforts to reduce and eliminate some of the biggest gaps in health outcomes. Priorities include improving birth outcomes for black babies who currently die at three times the rate of white babies in the County, as well as reducing disproportionally high rates of sexually transmitted infections among men having sex with men, black women, and transgender residents.

“Health equity is essential in a society that values the wellbeing of all its members, to ensure that no one is left behind simply because of where they live and other factors,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion to create the Center for Health Equity within the County Department of Public Health. He added, “We have an obligation to avoid exacerbating health disparities in our communities, and to reverse them.”

The plan is a call to action to advance health equity so that everyone has access to the resources and opportunities they need for optimal health and well-being in the County.

“In Los Angeles County, there are stark differences in health outcomes based on race and ethnicity, geography and income,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “The action plan is a set of strategic priorities and is a public commitment to achieving a set of well-defined equity goals to close gaps. These activities will build a movement toward ensuring everyone in the county can reach their fullest potential.”

“Equity shouldn’t be an aspiration in our society but rather a basic human right,” Community Health Councils CEO Veronica Flores said. “To ensure this basic right is operationalized throughout our County, the action plan will offer a clear path to accountability and strategy.”

The plan focus areas include:

  • Reducing the gap in black infant mortality by 30% in 5 years;
  • Eliminating congenital syphilis entirely in 5 years;
  • Reducing hazardous exposures to harmful toxins in low-income communities;
  • Improving health outcomes for residents with complex health needs;
  • Ensuring health agency services are accessible and culturally and linguistically appropriate.