Los Angeles Department of Health Services

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L.A. Health Care Director’s Vision Brings Change, Challenge

By Sarah Varney

Colleagues say Dr. Mitch Katz rides his bike everywhere, including to work and many appointments. (Photo: Michael Wilson)

Colleagues say Dr. Mitch Katz rides his bike everywhere, including to work and many appointments. (Photo: Michael Wilson)

It would be easy to confuse Dr. Mitch Katz with any other doctor at the Roybal clinic in East Los Angeles. His desk in a closet-sized, windowless office is littered with patient records, x-rays and cans of Diet Coke.

His every man demeanor belies his stature. In fact, he even rides his bike to work and many appointments.  But Mitch Katz is Director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services, long one of the most beleaguered in the country. Katz oversees L.A.’s public hospitals and clinics, the place of last resort for millions of low-income Angelenos. He has 22,000 employees and a $3.7-billion dollar budget. When he arrived in Los Angeles last year after running San Francisco’s health department, he insisted on seeing patients one afternoon a week, a demand that struck many here as odd, if not impossible. How would Katz have time to treat patients with a system in ruin? Continue reading