Closing L.A. County Hospital Could Strain Emergency Services
An additional 20 emergency department beds and four critical care beds must be added to hospitals within a 3-mile radius of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital to absorb patients if the facility closes, according to a report released Monday by the Hospital Association of Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The report was issued following the release last week of Los Angeles County's contingency plan in case King-Harbor closes (Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 6/26).
The hospital in August faces a federal inspection, which determines whether the facility will retain its state license and federal funding or close its doors.
The hospital since 2004 has failed to comply with CMS minimum patient care standards (California Healthline, 6/25).
Jim Lott, the association's executive vice president, said that even with extra beds at nearby hospitals, patients could face delays getting to a facility. He added that if King-Harbor closes immediately, the county's contingency plan calls for sending ambulances to different hospitals on a rotating basis, a decision that he said would increase waiting times and delay treatment (Los Angeles Times, 6/26).
As supervisors on Tuesday get set to debate whether the county should begin the process of closing King-Harbor, supervisor Yvonne Burke has refused to disclose her position, the Los Angeles Times reports. Burke's district includes the hospital.
Three supervisors have indicated that they will vote to begin adopting the contingency plan. The fifth supervisor also has remained silent ahead of Tuesday's vote (Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 6/26).
Bruce Chernof, county health director, said he would not recommend that supervisors move to begin closing the hospital immediately while it prepares for the federal inspection but said that he would respect the board's decision if they elected to pursue closure (California Healthline, 6/25).
Amid all the talk of closure, King-Harbor on Monday passed an inspection that will allow it to retain federal funding through August, when a wider federal inspection will take place. Inspectors found that problems in the hospital's ED had been corrected, after previously finding that ED patients were at immediate risk for harm or death.
In addition, Assembly member Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) on Monday announced that he intended to amend legislation to transfer oversight of King-Harbor Hospital from the county board of supervisors to a newly created hospital authority (Los Angeles Times, 6/26).