Hope and a Health Care Solution for South Los Angeles

By Robert K. Ross, M.D., President & CEO, The California Endowment

The economic downturn heaped on top of an already-broken health system has many families and communities across the nation feeling much pain these days. But health pain in the community of South Los Angeles is a story that is decades old. The pain is symbolically captured by the shuttered Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, closed a few years ago after a rather egregious and very public episode of a Latina woman who literally collapsed and died on the floor of the emergency room of the hospital. Her pleas for immediate assistance were ignored by the emergency room reception staff, and the entire experience was captured by hospital video cameras and replayed on television news for several days. The episode put the capstone on a derogatory shorthand expression that some South LA residents had for MLK hospital: “Killer King.”

After years of trying to manage a steady stream of reports and allegations of substandard health care at MLK, county supervisors made the painful but correct decision to close the hospital. They pledged to re-open it under new management, and on Thursday of this week a decision will be rendered by the University of California Board of Regents that will bring the promise of a new MLK one step closer to reality. The Regents will consider a proposal to have the University provide clinical and teaching program support at the hospital once it is re-opened, presumably by 2013. While the UC is not being asked to operate the hospital, the clinical and teaching program component is critical.

As a general rule, university hospitals (also known as “teaching hospitals” in some circles) are very attentive to evidence-based, high-quality care. This is not to say that all university hospitals are better than community hospitals without a teaching or university affiliation. But for a community like South Los Angeles, it will be important to have the imprimatur and involvement of the University of California in the re-opening of the hospital. A new hospital operator will have many ghosts and demons of the old MLK that need be exorcised, and the UC brand will help community residents establish a level of confidence that a re-opened MLK will provide high-quality care.

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Learn more about tomorrow’s UC Regents meeting

UC Regents Make Final Decision on MLK Hospital This Thursday At UCLA

Due to the overwhelming response from the community to the notice regarding the UC Regents-Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Hospital meeting, an overflow room has been secured with an audio feed of the meeting in the De Neve Plaza on the UCLA Campus.

The UC Regents will consider the proposed agreement with Los Angeles County on the Martin Luther King, Jr. replacement facility this Thursday, November 19 at Covel Commons on the UCLA campus. Doors will open at 8:00 a.m. for the meeting, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. The Committee on Health Services will hear the item around 9:15 a.m.

This much anticipated meeting will culminate over eighteen months of discussion with the University of California about a partnership that will restore quality medical services at a state-of-the-art hospital at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center site. Let your presence be your voice.

Limited transportation is available. Do not miss the opportunity to be part of history. Seating is limited.

To confirm your attendance, please call 213-743-7200 or go online here.

First Building Project in the MLK, Jr. Medical Campus to Host Community Meeting Tomorrow

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the LA County Community Development Commission will host a community meeting to discuss plans to construct the South Health Center, a $20 million, 30,000 square foot medical building this Tuesday, September 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center’s H. Claude Hudson Auditorium (12021 S. Wilmington Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90059).

Building on the momentum generated by mass participation at recent hospital-related meetings, community input is being solicited on the design and construction of the facility, scheduled for completion by late 2010. Supervisor Ridley Thomas, Second District and Commission staff will be on hand to update residents and stakeholders on what is the first of several projects underway in connection with the development of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. hospital and revitalization of the existing 38 acre medical center site and surrounding neighborhood.

VIDEO: Board Unanimously Supports Plan To Build A New MLK Hospital At Historic Meeting

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan to build a new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital and authorized county officials to proceed with negotiations with the University of California to provide clinical services.

The Board also approved a capital program for construction of the new medical facilities, contingent on the UC Board of Regents’ vote at its meeting next month to enter into a service agreement with the county.

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Supervisor Ridley-Thomas is asking interested residents to attend the LA County Board of Supervisor’s meeting on Tuesday, August 18th at 11:30 A.M.

At the meeting, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hear a proposal to establish a State-of-the-Art Medical Facility at the NEW Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital in cooperation with the University of California. The Board will vote on a proposal to construct new facilities on the old Martin Luther King Medical Center site.

The historic meeting will be held at 500 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012. Transportation to the Board meeting is available. To confirm your attendance and/or reserve transportation, please call (213) 974-2222.