Assemblymember visits to promote hospital state bonds

assembly.jpgBy Joseph Serna, Staff Writer

State Assemblymember Hector De La Torre paid a visit to Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach Friday, a prime spot for the Southgate representative to talk about Assembly Bill 10, a bill proposing $980 million in state bonds for future hospital projects.
“This bond is geared toward having a healthy population of young people,” De La Torre said of his legislation, which passed the Assembly Health Committee 14-3 on April 24.
The bill, titled the Children’s Hospital Bond Act of 2008, is similar to 2004’s Proposition 61, which voters approved and brought $750 million in bonds for children’s hospitals.
Approximately 75 percent of those proceeds will have been allocated or spent by May 2008, according to De La Torre.
If passed, AB 10’s $980 million in bonds would be distributed to California’s 13 children’s hospitals as needed to fund new buildings, upgrading equipment and facilities and expanding capacity to meet the state’s growing population demands.
Eight of the state’s children’s hospitals are nonprofit, including Miller Children’s.
“I am overwhelmed by the opportunity we have to continue our good work,” said Dr. Mel Marks, Miller Children’s Hospital chief administrative officer. “I hope people appreciate that as we grow, the children will be the winners.”
Giving a face to the children the funding could help, 13-year-old Nicholas Hoy shared his story.
“I always forgot to breath which bothered everybody very much,” he said with a smile. Hoy suffers from Mitochondrial Disease. His form of the disease leaves it difficult for his body to convert food to energy, which when he was younger left him sometimes too exhausted to breath.
With the help of doctors at Miller Children’s–he sees seven specialists at the hospital–Hoy’s development is on par with boys his age and he hopes to be the goalie for the USC water polo team.
His mother, Libby, explained the need to help the state’s hospitals this way: limited children’s hospitals equal a limited amount of beds, which equals a delay in treatment, which ultimately puts the children at risk.
“All the hospitals have more needs than they can meet,” agreed Diane Dooley, president and chief executive officer of the California Children’s Hospital Association. “The needs are just too great for this not to succeed.”
AB 10 is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File. If it is approved, it will arrive before the general Assembly in early June. Should it be approved by the house and state Senate, it would appear before California voters in November elections next year.