County Approves King/Drew Plan, Renames Hospital
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved the county's MetroCare plan to reduce services at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew University Medical Center and transfer management to UCLA-Harbor Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reports. The county also voted to rename the hospital Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital (Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 11/7).
King/Drew failed a CMS inspection conducted over the summer, resulting in a loss of eligibility to participate in Medicare at a cost of about $200 million annually, about half the center's budget.
Federal funding was scheduled to end by Nov. 30, but CMS officials last week granted a request by the county to extend funding through March 2007, when the county said the transition would be complete (California Healthline, 10/31).
Bruce Chernof, county health chief, said there could be interruptions in care due to staffers leaving and the recent closing of the residency program at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, which was affiliated with the hospital (Los Angeles Times, 11/7).
The debate over the future of King/Drew directly affects the low-income minority community in south Los Angeles that the hospital serves, the Los Angeles Times reports. Black community leaders have voiced opposition to proposals to close the hospital, but Latino community leaders have not been as involved.
Within a five-mile radius of the hospital, the black population has declined by about 30% in 20 years, while the Latino population has increased by 34% over the same period, according to the Times.
Although the demographics have changed, several experts say that low-income Latinos and low-income blacks have more in common with each other than they do with other groups and that the two groups must collaborate more to determine the future of the hospital (Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 11/7).
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Monday reported on the supervisors' approval of the county's plan for King/Drew. The segment includes comments from:
- Los Angeles City Council member Janice Hahn; and
- King/Drew staff and patients (Myrow, "KPCC News," KPCC, 11/6).