Willowbrook, MLK

ABC 7 – South Los Angeles Gets New Hospital After 8 Years

By Adrienne Alpert
South Los Angeles is set to reopen a hospital in about three weeks after going eight years without one.

The original Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital was forced to close because of poor patient care. Managers of the new operation hope they can keep patients healthy and out of the hospital with a focus on preventative care.

Reporter Adrienne Alpert got a sneak peek into the revamped hospital in the video above. Click here for the 2-minute clip.

New MLK Hospital Now Offering Tours

The brand new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital is now providing free tours for the general public.  While the hospital is still in the process of preparing for their July opening,

Hospital staff now provide free guided tours to visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 1:00 p.m., 2:00p.m., and 3:00 p.m.  Tours are available on a pre-registered basis only.

To register for a tour, or for more information, please contact Yliana Gomez, Senior Community Relations Specialist, by email at  ygomez@mlkch.org, or by phone at 424-338-8617.

For more information on Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, please visit www.mlkch.org


MLK History Timeline

Fighting Obesity with Teamwork… and Zumba


Dr. Nicole Alexander advises a patient at the POWER Obesity Group Visit program

Struggling with obesity, Marta Rodriguez used to dread stepping on the scale at her doctor’s office.

“I would scramble to empty my pockets first – take out keys, coins, anything to help reduce the weight,” she said in Spanish, with a laugh. “Now, I don’t have to do that anymore.”

The lively 61-year-old wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “#1 Mom” has lost seven pounds since joining the POWER Obesity Group Visit program at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus in Willowbrook. And she’s just getting started.

“I’ve seen a patient drop 30 lbs. through this program, and her success motivates me,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “I know that the program works, that it’s not a lie, because she’s living proof.”

_MG_6935POWER stands for Prevent Obesity With Eating Right, but the program also includes a Zumba workout, cooking demonstrations, and lectures conducted every Monday, 1:30-3:30pm, in the conference room at the Interns and Residents Building Terrace. Currently, the program has about 15 patients per session, but it has the capacity to expand to 50 patients.

Dr. Theodore Friedman, lead physician at the MLK Outpatient Center’s Endocrinology Clinic, founded the program in 2013, concerned about high rates of obesity in the Second District, particularly in the vicinity of the medical campus.

“At least a third, if not half, of the people in this area have obesity,” he said. “They’re my patients and I want them to be as healthy as they can be. I think it’s a worthy cause.”

_MG_6967Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. It’s particularly prevalent in the Second District, where there are too many fast food chains and too few grocery stores selling fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables.

Because simply telling individual patients to eat well and exercise wasn’t producing the results he wanted, Dr. Friedman decided to try “ putting patients in a room together so they can support each other and inspire each other.”

It worked. Over the last two years, several patients have experienced significant weight loss, including one who shed 80 lbs.

“When they lose weight, they’re transformed,” Dr. Friedman said. “I had this patient who had a walker, and she came with her husband all the time. He also had trouble walking. Each of them separately lost about 50 lbs. Now, she uses the walker much less.”


Dr. Nicole Alexander, Dr. Theodore Friedman, Elizabeth Driscoll

During a recent session, 14 women and one man cheerfully broke into a sweat while dancing to the tune of Gloria Estefan’s Conga, using a Zumba workout video projected onto the conference room screen. Dr. Friedman danced along with them.

“I’m here to lose weight and feel great!” one patient announced to the class. Another patient parked her walker against the wall while working out. Whatever they may have lacked in coordination, they more than made up for with determination.

After Zumba, the patients listen to lectures from Dr. Friedman, family medicine and bariatric specialist Dr. Nicole Alexander, and dietician Elizabeth Driscoll.

“Obesity in general has become an epidemic, but especially in minorities,” Dr. Alexander said. “It’s a big problem and it’s almost not their fault because there aren’t a lot of healthy options near where they live so they default to fast food that’s high in calories.”_MG_7030

Dr. Alexander meets individually with patients, so she can give them practical advice that’s tailored for their specific needs, resources, and physical abilities. “If they’re on welfare, for example, we let them know that food stamps are accepted at farmer’s markets, that they can try to grow fruits and vegetables in their own backyards, that they should consider cooking more while avoiding sodas and other junk food.”

So far, 51-year-old Emma Guevara has lost 40 pounds through the program, and she wants to lose 50 pounds more. “My mom died of diabetes, and I don’t want to go through what she went through.”

“God bless them for motivating me,” she said of the program. “I’m very thankful.”

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Willowbrook to Get New Library and Senior Housing

Wilmington renderingMore than 100 units of affordable housing for seniors, an 8,000 square foot library, and an employment center will soon replace a blighted lot on the corner of 118th Street and Wilmington Avenue in Willowbrook.

More than $9 million in county funds have been allocated to the project, which will be developed by Thomas Safran and Associates and the Community Development Commission. Since the property is located one block from the new Martin Luther King Medical Campus, 22 units will be reserved for residents with medical needs.

“This development is the first of its kind in Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who initiated the project. “We have never built senior housing above a county library and it will serve as an educational anchor and gathering place for the community.”

Willowbrook, a farming area settled in the 1800s, derived its name from the willow trees and rambling brook that decorated its landscape. As its population grew, the neighborhood became known for its homes with deep lots and a community of residents determined to protect it from the encroaching development.

This development is part of a broader, $1 billion investment in the area that includes the MLK Medical Campus, redevelopment of the Rosa Parks Metro station, improved streetscapes, lighting, landscaping, a community garden and other community improvements.

The MLK Medical Campus, which includes a new Outpatient Center, a Psychiatric Urgent Care Center and a Center for Public Health, will be inaugurating a brand new hospital in August.

“With the expansion and development of the new MLK Medical Campus, the tightknit community of Willowbrook will have yet another asset,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “This is a legacy that will live on for generations to come.”

Health Technology Revolutionizes Patient Care

Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services is installing a new countywide electronic health record system that could be a model for health care organizations across the country.

“Our patients simply need and deserve world class technology to protect their health,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The system, called the Online Real-time Centralized Health Information Database, or ORCHID, is the first uniform, standardized, and fully integrated electronic health record technology to be released countywide.

“Having one system will bring us together as a single integrated system,” DHS Director Mitchell Katz said.

With ORCHID, nurses will be able to use bar code technology when administering medications to patients. Bar code scanners will be available in patient rooms, allowing bedside bar code scanning. The nurse scans the bar code on the patient’s wrist and the bar coded medication label, then administers the medication. Among other benefits, the ORCHID system will help verify that the right medication was given to the right patient in the right dose at the right time.

Each patient will have a unique bar code that exists only on his or her wristband. The system alerts the nurse if the medication order is expired, discontinued or if the wrong medication is given to a patient. The bar code technology will reduce the possibility of patient care errors with every pill.

“The new system will result in improved quality of care, improved efficiency of care, and an innovative system that can serve as a model across the country,” the Supervisor said.

Recently, the pharmacy team in Los Angeles County completed the task of scanning every unique medication for the Department of Health Services pharmacies to capture the bar codes into the ORCHID database. The process, completed by hand, included 50,000 scans.

The new system will launch on November 1 at Harbor UCLA Medical Center and at the Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center on February 1, 2015. The initial launch will be followed by the LAC+USC Medical Center on May 1 2015, the High Desert Regional Health Center Cluster on August 1, 2015, the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center on November 1, 2015, and the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center Cluster on February 1, 2016.

“We are dismantling the digital divide of health care that exists in our communities,” the Supervisor said.