Group Files Suit Against Los Angeles County To Stop Closure of King/Drew Medical Center Trauma Unit
The not-for-profit Friends of Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center has filed suit against Los Angeles County and the county Department of Health Services to prevent the closure of the hospital's trauma center, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/28).
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in September unanimously supported a plan to close the hospital's trauma center and hire outside managers to run the hospital to address patient care problems. Earlier this month, the board voted to hire Chicago-based Navigant Consulting to restructure and take over the day-to-day operations of the hospital. The county will pay Navigant as much as $13.2 million to begin overseeing the hospital on Nov. 1. The consulting firm, which will operate King/Drew for up to one year, will deliver its first report to the board in 60 days and will file a comprehensive assessment by Jan. 3 (California Healthline, 10/20).
Friends of King/Drew -- which includes patients, doctors and community members -- has filed a discrimination lawsuit, accusing the county of "violating the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause" (Los Angeles Times, 10/28). The suit also accuses the county of violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as Medicare and Medicaid regulations and various state laws.
Mark Ravis, the group's attorney, said the hospital and trauma center "have not been dealt with fairly nor have the racial minorities they serve."
The lawsuit says that layoffs, transfers and funding cuts have "systematically dismantled the medical care safety net" and resulted in service delays. It also says that the board already has decided to close the trauma center, although a hearing on the closure is not scheduled until November (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/28).