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Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital Receives Official Go-Ahead

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrated the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital receiving the official seal of approval Tuesday from the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare.

“Today is indeed a good day for Los Angeles,” he said. “Accreditation by The Joint Commission clears the final hurdle to restore quality hospital services at the MLK Medical Campus and marks the beginning of a new era in health care delivery in the Willowbrook community and beyond.”

“I want to convey heartfelt congratulations to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Hospital staff, the Board of Directors and the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services for all of the tireless work they have invested in making this day a reality,” he added. “I look forward to the August 7 community dedication that will celebrate the facility’s formal opening. It is indeed a brand new day at MLK.”

After rigorous inspections, The Joint Commission, which evaluates and accredits more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States, concluded that the Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Hospital met standards for safety and quality of care in infection control, surgical services, medical record keeping, pharmaceutical services and a clean physical environment.

Built by Los Angeles County at a cost of $210 million, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital is a state-of-the-art safety net that will provide compassionate, collaborative, quality care – regardless of citizenship or ability to pay. It has 131 beds, including 29 in the Emergency Room and 20 in Intensive Care. However, this is only Phase I of the project and another expansion is envisioned in the future.

The hospital is part of a $650-million medical campus that is a new model for healthcare delivery that emphasizes preventive care and holistic health with an Outpatient Center, Mental Health Urgent Care Center, Center For Public Health and, soon, a Recuperative Care Center serving homeless patients and an office building for doctors.

Good News Coming to Willowbrook


The Rosa Parks Station renovation project received a major boost Tuesday with a $38.5 million grant from the California Transportation Commission. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will oversee the construction of the project, which is expected to cost between $40-$45 million. The station is the 4th busiest in Los Angeles County with more than 30,000 riders a day. Built more than 25 years ago, the station will be transformed from its current outdated layout to a more user friendly, safe and modern design. The state grant will also be used to fund traffic signal improvements along the entire Blue Line.

The station’s  new configuration will improve commuter access as well as bring a focus on better security with improved lighting, a Sheriff’s substation and improved streetscapes to make it more rider friendly. The master plan, which was approved in 2011 by the Metro Board, will also have a central plaza and pedestrian access to the nearby shopping center on Wilmington Avenue.

“I am grateful to the state’s transportation commission for this support which will go a long way towards funding this very worthy project,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who assumed the Metro Chairmanship role July 1. “The riders that use this station deserve to have first class amenities and services. I look forward to beginning the hard work of renovation and making this station a gem among Metro’s stations.”

The overall improvements include:

  • A platform extension with a shade canopy, signal improvements and a new at-grade pedestrian crossing for the Blue Line. New elevators, escalators and stairs for the Green Line will be built.
  • Better lighting and improved pedestrian access for all riders.
  • A new Metro Customer Service Center as well as a transit security facility and a Sheriff’s substation.
  • A bike hub.
  • More parking.
  • New civic art to decorate the station.

WB_rendering-pylonsConstruction is scheduled to begin in 2017 and is expected to be completed by 2018. The Rosa Parks station renovation project is part of nearly a $1 billion investment that seeks to improve the quality of life for the Willowbrook community by promoting health and wellness, economic development opportunities, job creation and improving public safety. Already, more than $650 million has been invested in the MLK Medical Campus, which houses the new MLK Community Hospital, Outpatient Center, a Center for Public Health and Mental Health Urgent Care Center and plans for a new senior housing complex with a new library have also been approved.

A Golfer Who Broke Barriers

Charlie_Sifford_1961When the late Charlie Sifford played golf, the hazards on the course extended far beyond sand traps and water holes.

The first African American to earn a Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour card endured racist slurs from the gallery, segregation in clubhouses, even death threats.

By breaking the color barrier in 1961, Sifford teed it up for other black players like Tiger Woods to compete. He has often been called the Jackie Robinson of golf.

On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe to rename a portion of West 120th Street, between Western and Van Ness Avenues, after him.

“Charlie Sifford Way” will lead people right into Chester Washington Golf Course, which had been Sifford’s home course.

“It’s important that we honor Mr. Sifford’s tremendous accomplishments, so that all may be inspired by his courage and perseverance,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

Sifford was born 1922 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and learned to play golf while trying to make a living as a caddy in the Jim Crow South.

After serving a tour of duty in the Army, he honed his swing in the United Golf Association, which allowed golfers of all races to play. The tour had been established by black golfers excluded from the PGA. Sifford won the UGA’s most important event – the National Negro Open – half a dozen times, including five years in a row during the 1950’s.

By the time the PGA did away with its “Caucasian-only” membership clause in 1961, under legal pressure, Sifford was past his prime. Still, he won PGA Tour events in 1967 and 1969, as well as its Seniors’ Championship in 1975.

In 2004, Sifford became the first African American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, which quoted him saying, “If you try hard enough, anything can happen.”

In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Sifford the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in a ceremony at the White House. Other recipients that year included Meryl Streep, Stevie Wonder, Tom Brokaw, Isabel Allende, and Stephen Sondheim.

When Sifford died in February at the age of 92, the president issued a statement calling him a golf legend who often faced “indignity and injustice even as he faced the competition… altering the course of the sport and the country he loved.”

“(Sifford) proved that he belonged,” the president added, “blazing a trail for future generations of athletes in America.”

Ridley-Thomas Advocates for Level I Trauma Center in South LA

Doctors and nurses pushing patient on gurney through emergency room

Given the high incidence of trauma-related deaths in the South Los Angeles area, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has asked county officials to determine how to bring a Level I trauma care center to South Los Angeles.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ motion, which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors June 30, asks for a comprehensive report to be completed by the fall which will include a timeline detailing the necessary steps.

Level 1 trauma centers have more resources available to provide total care for every aspect of trauma injury, from prevention through rehabilitation.  They are also research and teaching facilities.

“Ensuring quality trauma care is a priority for me,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We need more information and analysis to get a complete picture of the county’s trauma care needs. In particular, the trauma care system must provide intensive services, including trauma prevention strategies in those ‘hot spot’ areas with persistently high trauma mortality rates.”

The latest data shows that Los Angeles County as a whole has one of the best trauma care systems in the world, with the overall mortality rate at 3.6 percent well below the national average of 4.2 percent. However, South Los Angeles accounts for 20 percent of the trauma-related deaths, while it is only 10 percent of Los Angeles County’s population.

The new MLK Community Hospital, which is scheduled to open this summer, will have an Emergency Department with 21 beds, staffed 24-hours a day, seven-days a week to treat serious, life-threatening conditions that are not caused by traumatic injuries. 

“I look forward to the report in the fall so we can move as quickly as possible on this effort,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, Director of the Department of Health Services, supported the motion stating that: “We are committed to placing the most extensive resources in the areas that they are most needed.  South LA had a level one trauma unit in the past because of the high rate of trauma in that section of the county, and we want to restore that capability.”


The Expo Line is Coming Soon to Santa Monica

DJB_2307The nightmarish commute between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica could soon take no more than 46 minutes – even during rush hour – with Expo Line Phase Two opening in spring 2016.

On Monday, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Eric Garcetti boarded one of the new trains being tested on the tracks in Palms. Councilmen Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz joined them.

“The dream that many of us have had for a long time – to be able to ride the train from downtown Los Angeles all the way to Santa Monica – is almost a reality,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who became chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors July 1.

“Now almost 92 percent complete, Expo Line Phase Two will be delivered on time and on budget,” he added. “Not only will it shorten commutes and increase mobility in one of the county’s most congested travel corridors, it’s also creating jobs in the community.”

DJA_0072Under construction since fall 2011, the $1.5-billion project has created more than 3,000 jobs and provided work to about 300 small businesses. About half of those hired live within a five-mile radius of the project, or in zip codes with high rates of unemployment.

“Expo Line Phase Two puts people to work, greens the environment, and ultimately gets people where they need to be, both safely and efficiently,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “That’s the triple bottom line.”

The Exposition Construction Authority, an independent transportation planning, design and construction agency, contracted with Skanska-Rados Joint Venture to build the new rail line. This fall, it will turn over the system to Metro.

Phase 1 of the Expo Line stretches 8.6 miles and carries close to 30,000 passengers daily between downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. Phase 2 is a 6.6-mile extension to downtown Santa Monica that runs mostly parallel to the Interstate 10, giving commuters an alternative to the freeway. Its terminus is just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier, prompting Mayor Garcetti to say it can take passengers “from Grand (Avenue) to the sand.”

Both phases combined are projected to carry 64,000 passengers daily between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica by 2030.

Mayor Garcetti added Metro’s rail system is in the midst of an unprecedented expansion. Thanks to Measure R — a half-cent sales tax that voters agreed to pay over 30 years for transportation improvements — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector, and Purple Line Extension are simultaneously under construction, and more projects are in the pipeline.

“It is one of the largest public works programs in the US right now,” Mayor Garcetti said. “We’re putting Angelenos back to work, putting the recession in the rear view mirror, helping people get home faster to have dinner with their families, and providing traffic relief in the car capital of the world.”