California Regulators Move To Pull License of L.A. County Hospital
The Department of Health Services on Thursday informed Los Angeles County officials that it was beginning the process to revoke the license of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports (Ornstein/Connell, Los Angeles Times, 6/22).
DHS Director Sandra Shewry said the agency's decision is in response to "the egregious incidents that have come to light in the last six weeks," including a case in which a patient was left in the emergency department lobby on the floor for 45 minutes without care. The patient later died (Marquez, AP/Ventura County Star, 6/22).
Following the incident, CMS regulators last week cited the hospital for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
Federal inspectors earlier this month said ED patients at King-Harbor were in "immediate jeopardy" of harm or death. The hospital was given until the end of June to meet minimum federal standards or lose its eligibility to participate in Medicare (California Healthline, 6/18).
Meanwhile, the state plans to file a formal accusation against the hospital by the end of June. The hospital will have 15 days to respond with its defense, followed by an administrative hearing (AP/Ventura County Star, 6/22).
The hospital could retain its license, however, if it meets state and federal standards, according to a letter sent Thursday to county health director Bruce Chernof.
The hospital since 2004 has failed to meet such standards.
In addition, two of the five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors said they support closing the hospital without delay.
Community advocates contend that the loss of King-Harbor Hospital would leave local residents with few other options for care.
Lark Galloway Gilliam, executive director of Community Health Councils, said, "That emergency room, you can't let that go." Gilliam added, "Closure to me is not an option."
Cathy Chidester, acting director of the county's Emergency Medical Services Agency, said, "If something happens to this hospital, it will be devastating for the emergency medical system and devastating for the community" (Los Angeles Times, 6/22).
The president of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science on Thursday said the school is launching an 18-month "rebranding" effort that would prevent it from being blamed for recent quality-of-care problems at King-Harbor, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Susan Kelly, president of Drew, said, "We shared some doctors, but we were never the hospital, and we cannot be accountable for 90% of their problems." She added, however, that the school "had some part to play" (Hsu, Los Angeles Times, 6/22).
University officials in November 2006 voted to temporarily close the school's residency program while it rebuilds and finds a new affiliate teaching hospital.
The university lost its national accreditation because its affiliate hospital - the former Martin Luther King Jr./Drew University Medical Center -- failed a federal inspection. The hospital downsized to form King-Harbor in an effort to retain federal funding (California Healthline, 12/18/06).
Kelly said the relocation of the university's 248 medical residents, mostly out of state, puts a strain on underserved communities in the region that no longer will have ready access to care (Los Angeles Times, 6/22).