County Moves Forward With King/Drew Transfer
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve in concept a plan to transfer administration of Martin Luther King/Drew University Medical Center to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the Washington Post reports. The plan comes after CMS in September informed King/Drew administrators that the hospital had failed an inspection and would lose eligibility for federal funding (Geis, Washington Post, 10/4).
The renamed Harbor-Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital would be reduced in size to 114 patient beds and would feature an emergency department and expanded outpatient center. Pediatrics, neurosurgery, neonatal intensive care and other specialties would be transferred to Harbor-UCLA (Hymon/Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 10/4).
The plan calls for King/Drew employees to reapply for their jobs at the facility and states that those not rehired at Harbor-King will be transferred to other county facilities (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 10/3).
Kathy Ochoa, a senior health policy analyst at the Service Employees International Union Local 660, proposed a county hiring freeze to accommodate King/Drew employees.
The plan proposes terminating King/Drew's affiliation with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, which trains medical students at the facility.
County Department of Health Services Director Bruce Chernof said the county would like to help reassign Drew students to other county facilities.
David Janssen, county chief administrative officer, said the county would not renew its contract with Drew to manage medical training programs and provide some patient care at the facility. The contract expires June 30 and is worth about $12 million annually.
Drew President Susan Kelly said the university likely would have to cut back some of its training programs.
According to the Times, it remains unclear whether the facility would have to cease operations during the transfer, which Chernof said would take more than one year to complete.
In addition, state officials must approve the management transfer, and federal officials must agree to reinstate federal funding for King/Drew under the new management structure (Los Angeles Times, 10/4).
When asked if county funds could be used to sustain operations at the hospital without federal funding, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said that the county "simply can't backfill $200 million" (Los Angeles Daily News, 10/3).
Chernof said the county would have to close the hospital if federal funding is not restored.
In response to reports that Harbor-UCLA CEO Tecla Mickoseff was considering resigning in opposition to the plan, hospital spokesperson Julia Rees said Mickoseff told her "she is not intending to resign."
Physicians at the hospital in a statement on Monday questioned whether Harbor is equipped is to accommodate additional patients.
Chernof said the county would support Harbor-UCLA during the transition.
The board of supervisors directed Chernof to develop specifics of the proposal and present it to the board for final approval in two weeks.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday voiced support for the plan, a development the Times reports could contribute to "the plan's ultimate success" (Los Angeles Times, 10/4).
Several broadcast programs included discussions on the board of supervisors' approval of the proposal for King/Drew:
- KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?": The segment includes comments from Los Angeles County Supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Yaroslavsky; Ralph Di Libero, orthopedic surgeon and president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association; Ochoa; Charles Ornstein, health policy reporter for the Los Angeles Times; and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) (Olney, "Which Way, L.A.?," KCRW, 10/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "AirTalk": The segment includes comments from Yaroslavsky (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 10/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "KPCC News": The segment includes comments from Chernof; Gloria Molina, a Los Angeles County supervisor; Ochoa; Waters; and Yaroslavsky (Myrow, "KPCC News," KPCC, 10/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "KPCC News": The segment includes comments from Harbor-UCLA patients and medical residents and technicians at King/Drew (Nazario, "KPCC News," KPCC, 10/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "Patt Morrison": The segment includes comments from Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author and political analyst; Rachael Myrow, reporter for KPCC; and Yaroslavsky (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 10/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.