The partnership includes Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 721; the director of Health Services for L.A. County, Dr. Mitch Katz; and members of OneLA-IAF, a cluster of grassroots and faith-based organizations that advocate for an accessible and affordable healthcare system.“We are here tonight to form a partnership to improve the quality of care and delivery of services in the public health system of L.A. County,” Claretian Father Rosendo Urrabazo, representing Our Lady Queen of Angels, told an interfaith assembly gathered at the downtown parish to hear testimonies of uninsured persons who have faced many obstacles in receiving the services.The meeting was a follow-up of a Jan. 30 meeting where 400 participants declared their intention to be part of a process to promote access to healthcare, based on the Affordable Care Act signed on March 2010 by President Barack Obama.“In February my primary care physician referred me to an eye specialist,” said Alicia Vera, an uninsured La Placita parishioner who has been assisted at the county’s H. Claude Hudson Comprehensive Health Center. Vera said she is slowly losing her vision as the weeks go by as she waits her turn to see an eye doctor. Other first-person stories described at the June 6 event: —A breast cancer patient struggles to get follow-up appointments at the same county clinic, despite referrals from her primary care doctor--A patient suffering from hypertension had to leave the clinic after waiting all day long to be seen by a specialist, only to learn that most of the people in line had appointments scheduled the same time as hers.“I’m telling you my story because we have to create a better system,” La Placita’s Maria Batta said. “People’s lives are at stake. Our community deserves better.”“There are many good people working in the health care industry who want to provide better service for their patients.” said Father Urrabazo, “It is time to listen to their suggestions for improving the culture of service and to weed out those who do not.”He expressed his and others’ concerns for the high cost of emergency room care that is usually transferred to the general public’s pockets, and he advocated for the establishment of more community clinics that could provide an efficient service.“Dr. Katz, we need your help to cut through the bureaucratic red tape,” he told the county’s top official, and observed that if done properly, “a better” county health care system could be a model for other counties throughout the state and even nationwide.Since the January meeting, OneLA membership has organized meetings with small business owners struggling to provide health insurance for their workers and is on the planning phase for a fall Small Business Summit featuring state insurance commissioner Dave Jones and Assemblymember Mike Feuer.A leadership retreat with community leaders, staff and administrators from the Hudson Center was also proposed, to work together in “addressing the concerns at the facility.”“Let this be the beginning of an exemplary transformation,” declared OneLA’s Carolina Garcia, “in which we all work together to make our county health system stronger and desirable, so that patients will visit county facilities by choice, rather than by last resort.”For more information about OneLA-IAF, call (213) 273-8420 or visit{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0617/onela/{/gallery}