Wilk seeks trauma center funding

Scott Wilk took the oath of office as the new Republican senator from the 21st District on Dec. 5. Courtesy photo

In hopes of more fairly distributing funds for Los Angeles County trauma centers, Senator Scott Wilk announced Senate Bill 792 to bring adequate finances and resources to currently underserved cities.

And Santa Clarita’s trauma center has been on the short end of the funding stick.

“Trauma centers were underfunded and underperforming,” Wilk said. “If in fact there was a real emergency, some type of terrorist attack or natural disaster, the county was not properly armed to meet that challenge.”

The new bipartisan senate bill revisits Measure B passed in the 2002 election, partially in response to the 9/11 attacks, which used three cents per square foot on real property improvements toward the county trauma network.

“My hope is to build a coalition within the county and put pressure on these Board of Supervisors to do the right thing and properly fund these trauma centers,” Wilk said. “I’m hopeful that the Board of Supervisors will do the right thing on their own.”

The Board of Supervisors were to disperse funds to trauma centers in need, but when county supervisors abolished the committee that oversaw the funds, $195 million of the $250 million went to three county hospitals in central Los Angeles.

Santa Clarita’s trauma center at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is the second to last in funding in the county, receiving $900,000 annually, Wilk said.

Though Antelope Valley’s trauma center sees 12 percent of visitors in L.A. County as the third busiest in the state, it was given 0.5 percent of the funds. Wilk said that Antelope Valley’s center, which currently receives $1.2 million a year, needs $10 million in funds.

“There’s a lot of cost involved in being a trauma center,” Wilk said. “To not properly fund it I find reprehensible.”

The new bill will reinstate the Measure B Oversight Commission made up of local appointees and include more stakeholders. The committee will study and report the administration of funds and recommend where funding would best be spent. Wilk said he hopes the bill will take affect by next year.

“With that, more people have a seat at the table,” he said. “We pay into it, we should get what we’re owed.”

The Signal was unable to reach a spokesman from the local hospital at the time this story was being reported.

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