Willowbrook, MLK

Empowered to Realize the Dream

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. immortalized the words “I have a dream!” 52 years ago in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the historic Aug. 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The great civil rights leader stirred hope then, and he still does. At the recent dedication ceremony for the community hospital that bears his name in Willowbrook, hope shone on the faces of everyone in the crowd,  evident in the new video above.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who spearheaded the construction of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital and other facilities on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, envisioned desperately-needed healthcare finally reaching the people of South Los Angeles. He promised at the Aug. 7, 2015 dedication ceremony, “It’s a new day at MLK, but an even better day is coming.”

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A New Day at MLK!

Calling it “a promise fulfilled,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas led a historic dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital.

“It’s a new day at MLK, but an even better one is coming,” he vowed to the crowd, estimated at about 1,300 people, who came to witness the long-awaited event. “A new era in healthcare delivery has begun.”

DSC_5832The 131-bed community hospital opened its doors last month, eight years after the closure of troubled King/Drew Medical Center. Its mission: providing compassionate, innovative and quality care to the 1.35 million residents of South Los Angeles – regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

“Your health is our top priority,” said Manuel Abascal, chairman of the hospital’s Board of Directors. “This is a hospital of the people, for the people, by the people.”

“At our hospital, patients and families will always come first,” added hospital CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor.

U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn; California Attorney General Kamala Harris; Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Don Knabe and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were just a few of many dignitaries who joined in the celebration.

Mayor Garcetti said, “We need hope and we need health, and today we have both.”

Los Angeles County invested $284 million to build the hospital, and provided another $171 million in startup funding before handing off responsibility for day-to-day operations to the private nonprofit Martin Luther King, Jr. Los Angeles Healthcare Corporation.

The centerpiece of the $650-million Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, the technologically advanced hospital provides general medicine, emergency and intensive care, as well as maternity and surgical services.

PHA_2142“God has answered our prayers!” said grateful community activist “Sweet” Alice Harris.

Further investment is coming to South LA. The Supervisor has directed the county to look into possibly bringing back a Level I Trauma Center to one of South Los Angeles’ hospitals. On the MLK Medical Campus, construction is either underway, or planned, on a recuperative care center where homeless patients can stay after being discharged from the hospital; a medical office building for doctors; an autism center, community garden, bike paths and walking trails.

Around the campus, Metro’s Rosa Parks/Willowbrook bus and train stations are also slated for significant upgrades. So are the local public library, senior center, and Kenneth Hahn Plaza.

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Blessing Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and leaders of different faiths gathered Thursday to pray for the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, which is to be dedicated Friday.

“We want God to bless this place,” the Supervisor said, before leading a procession of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Native Americans in a ceremony to bless 131-bed hospital.

The state-of-the-art facility, which cost $284 million to build, will provide general acute care, primary care, emergency services, and labor and delivery services.

Elaine Batchlor, the hospital’s chief executive officer, called it “a place where faith meets science.” On Thursday, the hospital’s doctors, nurses, other staff and patients received blessings from representatives of

the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church, and Guidance Church of Religious Science.

“I like how God takes things and resurrects them,” Pastor Beverly “Bam” Crawford of the Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church said. “I call for the blessings of God, that the work of God will be done here.”

Representatives from the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, Higashi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Beth Chayim Chadashim, Churches for Action, Centro Cristiano LA., the Band of Mission Indians and the L.A. City/County Native American Indian Commission also said prayers.

“May God fill us with love as we celebrate a new beginning in our community,” said Imam Omar Ameen of the Masjid Al-Shareef mosque of Long Beach.

Bishop Juan Mendez of Churches in Action prayed for the hospital’s patients, “I pray for human kindness, a compassionate touch,” he said.

Rabbi Lisa Edwards of Beth Chayim Chadashim focused on the hospital’s administrative and support staff: “May you know every day that you make a difference,” she said.

The hospital is the centerpiece of a network of preventive care services on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus, which also features the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center, Center for Public Health, and Mental Health Urgent Care Center.

Construction is either underway, or planned, on a recuperative care center for homeless patients, a building for doctor’s offices, a medical hub for children, and a community garden.

Around the campus, Metro’s Rosa Parks/Willowbrook bus and train stations are also slated for significant upgrades. So are the local public library, senior center, and Kenneth Hahn Plaza.

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Willowbrook is On the Move

Willowbrook, the community where the medical campus is located, was named for a willow tree, an original rancho boundary marker from the 1840’s that once stood near Compton Creek at the present day intersection of 125th Street and Mona Boulevard.  Much time has passed since the original 1843 land grant was given to Anastacio Avila, a member of the family who settled Pueblo de Los Angeles.  And Willowbrook is a place brimming with promise.

Willowbrook’s four square miles are in the midst of unprecedented investment, with the state-of-the-art Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital – to be dedicated August 7 – as the centerpiece.

Still to come are multimillion-dollar renovations to the Rosa Parks Metro station; a new Sheriff’s station, library and senior center, parks and streetscape improvements for Wilmington Avenue – all of which will complement recent upgrades to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus.

A new consensus is emerging: Willowbrook is on the move.