Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital board appoints new chief executive

Major progress toward the creation of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital occurred this week, when the MLK hospital board named Dr. Elaine Batchlor as the institution’s new chief executive officer. Now as the hospital, still under construction, is built, Batchlor will begin to assemble its staff, physicians, personnel and also see to the equipping of the new facility. Scheduled for completion in 2014, the hospital will have 130 beds, including a 21-bed emergency department and a critical care unit. It also will provide a range of healthcare and social services.

Dr. Batchlor has an outstanding background and brings a history of excellence and innovation to her new position. A physician of internal medicine and rheumatology, she previously served as chief medical officer for L.A. Care, the largest public health plan in the United States. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Harvard University, an M.D. from Case Western Reserve University, and a master’s degree in public health from UCLA. Upon her appointment as CEO, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, “Dr. Batchlor has the experience, expertise and leadership skills required to make this tremendous undertaking, the launch of a new hospital, the success we know it will be.” In this video, Dr. Batchlor talks about her vision for the new community hospital.
Click here to view the Los Angeles Times article.

Board of Supervisors takes urgent action to end health physician shortage in Los Angeles County

In an effort to recruit and retain health care workers, nurses, and primary care doctors to work in the County’s most medically underserved areas, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday took immediate action to ease the burden of student loan debt for Los Angeles County health care professionals.

In a motion sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the five-member Board voted to allow Los Angeles County employees to apply for the Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program, which provides up to $105,000 of loan assistance to physicians who commit to working full time for three years in an area with a shortage of health professionals. They also may apply for any other repayment program that does not require County financial contributions towards loan repayment.

The motion also directs staff to create a master plan on how to address physician shortage challenges in medically underserved areas using federal, state and philanthropic funds.

“By assisting physicians, who typically carry hefty loads of student loan debt, we hope to give them every incentive to go into public service,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “At the same time, the public benefits; we’ll be expanding access to health care throughout Los Angeles County, particularly in our urban, rural and traditionally underserved communities.”

Board approves innovative General Relief pilot program

At its meeting Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a pilot program with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center that authorizes St. John’s staff to identify and assist mentally and physically disabled General Relief (GR) recipients with obtaining Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Authorization of the pilot program allows St. John’s Well Child and Family Center staff and Department of Public Social Services staff to go out into communities in the Second District to assist disabled residents with completing the SSI application, getting supportive services and if needed, initiating referrals to a health or mental health provider.

“We must ensure that individuals who have a mental or physical disability get the maximum care that they need,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This pilot program is designed to effectively help residents obtain SSI so that they can efficiently obtain housing and medical assistance.”

The pilot program will enlist an outreach worker, a licensed psychiatrist, a program manager, and a driver to work together with GR recipients to assist them with applying and obtaining approval for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Last year roughly 37,000 individuals in the Second District received GR assistance. A large number of these individuals are homeless. Of the 45,422 homeless individuals in Los Angeles County identified in the 2011 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count report, 19,380 of those individuals are in the Second Supervisorial District, making the district the highest concentrated area of homelessness in the County.

The County’s General Relief program currently provides $221 a month in financial assistance to indigent adults whereas $845 a month is provided to SSI recipients.

“The difference in the amount of money between GR and SSI could make the difference between perpetual homelessness and getting off the streets,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

The selection of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center comes two years after the Board approved a pilot program to identify one community-based organization to assist General Relief, Supplemental Security Income, and Medi-Cal Advocacy Program advocates in providing SSI services to General Relief participants.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas marks National Health Center Week with two-mile community walk

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, community stakeholders and county employees, kicked off National Health Center Week in the Second Supervisorial District with a two-mile walk at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles. The walk included a stop at Umma Community Clinic and ended at Mount Carmel Park where a host of free health services awaited, including rapid HIV testing, blood pressure screenings, and a healthy cooking demonstration.

“Health is important this week and every week in the Second Supervisorial District,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We are here to get the two-mile party in motion and we are here to make a commitment to our health all year round.”

The organized walk came after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to commend the important service of health centers by proclaiming August 5 thru August 11, National Health Center Week in Los Angeles County.

“We are here to promote fitness and bring the community together to do something that’s never been done before,” said Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers Program Services Coordinator Yolanda Rogers. “All seven health centers are here together in one place at one time,” she continued.

Umma Community Clinic, South Central Family Health Center, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center, To Help Everyone Clinic, Watts Health Care Corporation, and South Bay Family Health Care representatives informed participants on the wide range of health services available to them and encouraged walkers to pursue healthy lifestyles, offering them free items such as pedometers, visors, and fresh fruit. “Being healthy is being happy, it’s as simple as that,” said Jackie Provost of Umma Community Clinic in South Central. “In my family everyone has high blood pressure and I can see how health can have a negative impact on someone’s livelihood.”

St. John’s Right to Health Committees Organizer Gary Poe Jr. shared Jackie’s sentiment. “Being healthy means freedom, “said Poe. “Without health you have restrictions on what you can and can not do.” To Poe, what made the walk especially great was the turnout and that people of all ages and all races were unified with one purpose and one cause – to live long healthy lives.

Each year, community health centers provide medical, dental, and health services to over 20 million patients across the nation without regard to income, health insurance status, or pre-existing medical condition.

“Health centers are meeting the primary medical needs of millions of individuals throughout the nation and transforming lives on a daily basis,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “That’s a huge undertaking that calls for both recognition and celebration.”

MLK local worker hiring update

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works recently shared the latest information on mandatory efforts aimed at fulfilling Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ commitment to ensure that construction of state of the art facilities at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center employ a workforce that looks like and is from the surrounding community.

With nearly 95% of the construction hours completed, 31% of the hours worked on  the  Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center Replacement Inpatient Tower Project have been by workers residing within a 5 mile radius of the hospital.  An additional 35% of the hours worked have been by workers residing in the secondary preference area, zip codes Countywide with a high level of unemployment as of July 8, 2012, according to the LA County Department of Public Works.

With less than 10% of the construction hours completed,  24% of the hours worked to date on Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center Multi Service Ambulatory Care Center Project have been by workers residing within a 5 mile radius of the hospital.  An additional 27% of the hours worked have been by workers residing in the secondary preference area, zip codes Countywide with a high level of unemployment, as of July 8, 2012.

These statistics are in sharp contrast to the voluntary local hiring efforts at the Harbor-UCLA medical center, where a similar hospital construction project is underway.  With nearly 71% of the construction hours completed, 39% of the hours worked to date on the Harbor UCLA Surgery/Emergency Replacement project have been by workers residing within a 15 mile radius of the hospital, as of July 16, 2012.

For a more information, including the ethnic/racial and gender distribution of the work performed at these sites and about the Local Worker Hire efforts, please go to the LA County Department of Public Works website here.

To view the local worker report click here.