Compromise Proposals Drafted To Maintain Some Services at King/Drew Medical Center Trauma Unit
Opponents of the proposed closure of the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center trauma unit on Monday drafted compromise proposals to keep the unit open in advance of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' scheduled vote on the proposal Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the Times, Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said she had met with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and union officials to draft a proposal to maintain trauma services at King/Drew. However, Burke said Monday evening that the language of the proposal had not been finalized.
A proposal by Los Angeles City Council member Martin Ludlow would call for the county Department of Health Services to hire 24 to 36 critical care nurses immediately and reduce by one-third the number of trauma patients seen at the hospital. Ludlow said he also would ask the University of California-Los Angeles to "co-pilot" some physician training programs at King/Drew (Chong/Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 11/23).
In a lawsuit filed by community advocacy group Friends of King/Drew, a judge last week denied an application for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the closure of the trauma unit, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. The judge ruled that the petition was premature because the county board had not voted on the proposal (Chavez, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 11/23).
Friends of King/Drew -- which includes patients, doctors and community members -- in October filed a discrimination lawsuit, accusing the county of "violating the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause." The suit also accused the county of violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as Medicare and Medicaid regulations and various state laws. The lawsuit said that layoffs, transfers and funding cuts have "systematically dismantled the medical care safety net" and resulted in service delays (California Healthline, 10/28).
David Martin, a plaintiff attorney, said the petition could be refiled if the county board votes to close the trauma unit because the judge dismissed the motion without prejudice (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 11/23).
Some opponents of the proposed closure of the trauma unit "have subtly played the race card in the King/Drew case because, historically, it has worked," David Lehrer and Joe Hicks -- president and vice president, respectively, of Community Advocates -- write in a Times opinion piece, adding that "once race has been injected, it's extremely hard for opponents to fight back."
Some local officials and community leaders have "attacked" the board of supervisors for trying to close the trauma unit, "despite horrifying stories of patient neglect and independent audits that threaten to deny the hospital accreditation," they state. Lehrer and Hicks write, "It's time to recognize that community leaders -- elected or not -- can be demagogues, can be self-interested and can be wrong" (Lehrer/Hicks, Los Angeles Times, 11/23).