Los Angeles' MLK Hospital Cuts Deal To Reopen

A plan to reopen Los Angeles' Martin Luther King Jr. hospital as a private, nonprofit facility in partnership with the University of California is the latest example in a new trend among public hospitals that has lead to greater efficiency, and often quality elsewhere, The New York Times reports. Like many public hospitals, MLK had a track record of inconsistent quality and grim finances, and "was closed in 2007 after a series of errors, some of them fatal. In May that year, for example, Edith Rodriguez, 43, was seen in a security video writhing on the floor of the hospital’s emergency room for nearly an hour as a janitor swept around her."

"[U]nder a proposal approved by the University of California Regents on Thursday, the hospital, previously known as Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, will no longer be run by the county, but will be a nonprofit organization governed by a seven-member board of directors." The university will station 14 to 20 doctors to oversee the hospital, and eventually hopes to train medical residents there (Steinhauer, 11/22).

The Los Angeles Times reports, "Speculation already has begun about who would be named to the board and how they would avoid the kind of mistakes that resulted in the shutdown of inpatient and emergency services two years ago." Los Angeles County's chief executive, William Fujioka, said "They need to understand the cultural dynamics of operating in a low-income area -- that's a factor. But most important is knowing how to operate a hospital" (Hennessy-Fiske, 11/23).

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