Providing health care is one of the County's primary missions. About one-fourth of the $22 billion County budget and nearly 30 percent of its 100,000 employees are devoted to health and mental health care. The County partners with the private sector as well, contracting extensively for care and treatment services.
The services provided by the County are not only critical to the working poor and medically indigent, but to the population as a whole -- from protecting against diseases and terrorism to keeping the trauma care network functioning. The Health Services Department operates the second largest health system in the nation, and the Mental Health Department the largest in the world.
Department of Health Services
The Department of Health Services is the major provider of health care for more than 2 million residents without health insurance and provides the majority of all uncompensated medical care in the county. It provides hospital and outpatient care, programs and clinics, emergency medical services and rehabilitative services. Through university affiliates, the County hospitals conduct postgraduate medical education for interns, residents, and fellows. The department operates four acute care hospitals, a nationally-renown rehabilitation hospital, a multi-specialty ambulatory care center, six comprehensive health centers, and nine health centers. Additionally, it operates two trauma centers, two pediatric trauma centers, four emergency room rooms and a state-of-the art burn center.
Department of Public Health
The Department of Public Health endeavors to protect health, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being for all persons in the county. It focuses on prevention, seeking to assure a basic level of protection from health threats, including food-borne and easily transmittable disease outbreaks, natural and man-made emergencies, toxic exposures and preventable injury. The department works to prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and their risk factors, such as poor nutrition, inadequate physical activity and tobacco use. Among its activities are inspecting and grading food establishments and markets, monitoring ocean water and public swimming pools to ensure safe swim areas, screening and treating tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, immunizing children, and conducting annual flu vaccinations at public health clinics.
Department of Mental Health
The Department of Mental Health serves approximately 250,000 residents annually. It provides a comprehensive array of services at numerous sites throughout the County, with clinics managed by both County staff and contract agencies. Services are focused to help individuals of all ages attain and maintain their highest possible level of functioning while on the road to recovery from their mental illness. The department also serves as the public guardian, acting as conservator for persons gravely disabled by mental illness and frail elderly. Services for adults are targeted at those who are functionally disabled by severe and persistent mental illness and those who are low-income, uninsured and temporarily impaired or in situational crises. Services for youths are focused on those who are wards or dependents of the juvenile court, in psychiatric inpatient facilities, seriously emotionally disturbed, or special education students referred by local schools.