Councilman fights for pediatric care center

NORTHRIDGE "Twenty-one years ago today I received a parents worst phone call," said L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon.

Councilman Alarcon shared details of a personal tragedy Wednesday at a press conference.

His 3-year-old son, Richie, was killed in a violent car accident in the San Fernando Valley.

"My son was air lifted to Children's Hospital. I do not know how long exactly it took, but I do know that it took more than an hour and that is very significant. He died in my arms the next day," explains Alarcon.

Two decades later Alarcon says he has come full circle and realizes that there might be a purpose to Richie's short life.

His death has prompted Alarcon to spearhead the effort to bring a pediatric trauma unit to the Northridge Hospital in the San Fernando Valley.

"Pediatric patients that are in a car accident in this area are flown by helicopter to Children's Hospital. Though the system works it is not the best or the ideal system," explains Kathy Chidester from the County Department of Health, EMS.

A $2 million allocation to the project comes from Richie's Fund which was set up in honor of the 3-year-old boy.

The money comes from a portion of the county's revenues, from traffic citations to speeders and other offenders.

While Alarcon doesn't suggest that his son could of been saved if he had been treated at a trauma center in the valley. He does believe that timing is critical when attempting to save young lives.

Members of Northridge Hospital say that they are committed to seeing the project through. Currently, the hospital is in the middle of a very long and tedious accreditation process. If all goes well the pediatric trauma center could open its doors by summer of 2009.


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