Compromise Measure Maintains Services at L.A. County Hospital
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected a motion to begin closing Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in case the facility fails its federal inspection in August, the Los Angeles Times reports.
County health care officials warned supervisors that moving to close the hospital could strain efforts to prepare for the inspection, which determines whether the facility will retain its state license and federal funding.
The hospital since 2004 has failed to comply with CMS minimum patient care standards.
Two supervisors in support of closing King-Harbor proposed scheduling public hearings and 90-day notices that California law requires before an emergency department is closed.
A voluntary closure would allow the county to rebuild the hospital without losing its state license, according to the Times.
Supervisors unanimously voted for a compromise that pledges not to reduce services at the hospital until the result of the inspection is known.
The compromise asks county health officials to begin negotiating with local hospitals to absorb King-Harbor patients if the hospital closes. Health officials also will seek to increase the number of beds at other county hospitals.
The supervisors also voted to begin identifying private hospital companies interested in operating King-Harbor (Ornstein/Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 6/27).
"Dithering, living on extensions and waivers, playing for time - these are the strategies that created the tragic wreck of King-Harbor," a Times editorial states. "Now the county must fix a problem it has preferred to let fester," according to the editorial.
The Times proposes several alternatives for county officials to consider:
- "Turn the hospital over to a private entity - if one can be found at this 11th hour";
- "Create a hospital authority to run it"; or
- "Turn [the hospital] into a satellite of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center."
The editorial concludes, "Any of those options, if they still remain, are preferable to the dangerous county mismanagement of this once-promising hospital. If none can be arranged, close it down" (Los Angeles Times, 6/27).
KPCC's "Patt Morrison" on Tuesday included a discussion with Los Angeles Times staff writer Charles Ornstein about King-Harbor (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 6/26). Audio of the segment is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.