LOS ANGELES – With chants of “Save Rancho” and “These cuts won’t heal,” over 150 community, labor and disabled activists, many in wheelchairs, marched in front of the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital administration building here recently demanding that Los Angeles County not close this important and specialized hospital.

“We will be here for as long as it takes. Make no mistake about it, this is an issue of life and death,” shouted Annelle Grajeda, Service Employees International Union Local 660 general manager.

Grajeda called on everyone to join the tent city set up on hospital grounds, which is called the “Ranch.” Union members, community and disabled activists have vowed to remain in the tents until assurance is given that the hospital will not be closed.

Thousands of L.A. County residents rely on Rancho Los Amigos. To many patients, the hospital is literally a matter of life and death. Rancho is the only hospital west of the Mississippi that specializes in head and spinal injuries. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted early this year to close the hospital citing budget considerations.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org