LA County to get new health chief

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The “L.A. Times” says L.A. County may have found someone willing to take over the Department of Health Services. The job is maybe the toughest in county government.

There hasn’t been a fulltime County Health Services chief in two years. Part of the reason is because the job isn’t just a revolving door; it’s a wood chipper. Whoever steps in gets chewed up by the complexity of the second-largest public health system in America.

Health Services runs four hospitals and works with more than a hundred community clinics. It’s a $3.4 billion a year operation.

That’s double the budget of San Francisco’s public health department run by Dr. Mitch Katz – an AIDS specialist with a background in emergency medicine. The “L.A. Times” says he’s been tapped to take over L.A. County Health Services; the “Times” says other choices didn’t want the headache of running Health Services.

Dr. Katz must be well stocked with bureaucratic aspirin. He’d be the second Bay Area public official hired in the last year to fix a messed-up L.A. County department. Last spring, Donald Blevins – Alameda County’s probation chief – took over L.A. County Probation after reports of widespread mismanagement.