Future of King/Drew Medical Center Considered
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is considering two options for Martin Luther King/Drew University Medical Center in south Los Angeles after it stops receiving federal funds, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rosenblatt/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 9/27).
CMS on Friday notified King/Drew administrators that the facility failed an unannounced inspection and would lose eligibility to participate in Medicare and Medi-Cal. The hospital will lose about $200 million -- half of its budget -- in federal funding annually (California Healthline, 9/25).
King/Drew will not be certified as a Medicare provider after Nov. 30, but the facility will receive some federal funding for an additional 30 days (Ornstein et al., Los Angeles Times, 9/26).
After a second day of meetings to discuss the future of King/Drew, supervisors are focusing on the possibility of transferring administration of the county-owned hospital to a private entity or another county hospital.
A statement from the department indicated that any plan to maintain services at the hospital would require it "to be radically restructured."
A statement by Bruce Chernof, director of the county Department of Health Services, said, "The department is committed to finding a model that keeps critical inpatient services on the site."
Supervisor Gloria Molina said Chernof is scheduled next week to present to the board a report on options for the facility (Los Angeles Times, 9/27).
The Department of Health Services on Monday began evaluating the capacity of other hospitals in the area to accommodate patients who would no longer be able to receive treatment at King/Drew.
The University of California-Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine also on Monday announced plans for an "orderly transition" of about 50 physician residents from clinical rotations at King/Drew to hospitals administered by UCLA (Los Angeles Times, 9/26).
The Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education on Tuesday asked Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, which is affiliated with King/Drew, to submit short- and long-term plans on medical residents' ongoing training, according to ACGME spokesperson Julie Jacob.
Drew University President Susan Kelly said the university is considering several options, including arranging for Drew medical residents to work at other hospitals (Los Angeles Times, 9/27).
Summaries of a recent editorial and two opinion pieces addressing King/Drew are provided below.
Los Angeles Times: "The best way the county can help the community now is to admit its failure at King/Drew and allow a more competent party to take it over," a Times editorial states. Contracting with a private firm to operate the facility "is by far the best choice," according to the editorial (Los Angeles Times, 9/26).
- Erin Aubry Kaplan, Los Angeles Times: "Problems amassed over 30 years" at King/Drew "cannot be redressed in two," but the county "should be able to get it together enough to keep afloat a single 252-bed hospital," Kim writes in a Times opinion piece. "King/Drew is now closer to the grave than it has ever been" (Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 9/27).
- Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times: "Although there have no doubt always been good and dedicated employees fulfilling a noble mission" at King/Drew, it "has long had a rotten culture of sloth because of civil service protection and weak-kneed politicians who feared that cracking down would bring cries of racism," Lopez writes in his "Points West" column in the Times. According to Lopez, King/Drew "is a sinkhole for [county residents'] money" (Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 9/27).
Several broadcast programs included discussions on the future of King/Drew:
- KCET's "Life & Times": The program on Wednesday is scheduled to include an interview with Charles Ornstein, health policy reporter for the Los Angeles Times (Zavala, "Life & Times," KCET, 9/27). The complete transcript and audio of the program in RealPlayer will be available online after the broadcast.
- KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?": The segment includes comments from Ornstein (Olney, "Which Way, L.A.?," KCRW, 9/25). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "AirTalk": The segment includes comments from Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California; Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.); Ornstein; and Zev Yaroslavsky, a Los Angeles County supervisor (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 9/25). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "KPCC News": The segment includes comments from Millender-McDonald (Julian, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/25). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "KPCC News": The segment includes comments from Lott; Millender-McDonald; Antionette Smith Epps, CEO of King/Drew; Princess Sikes, president emeritus of the Greater Watts-Willowbrook Chamber of Commerce; and Earnest Smith, a pediatric cardiologist in the area (Myrow, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/26). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "The California Report": The segment includes comments from Lott, Millender-McDonald and Sikes (Myrow, "The California Report," KQED, 9/26). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.