Judge Bars Cuts in Patient Services at Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center
Superior Court Judge David Yaffe yesterday issued a temporary restraining order barring Los Angeles County from cutting patient services at Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center but allowing the county to eliminate about 400 jobs at the hospital by July 1, the Los Angeles Times reports (Fox, Los Angeles Times, 6/26). Earlier this month, the county public health system announced that it would eliminate 79 physician, 152 nursing and 210 administrative positions at Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center by June 30 as part of a 16% budget reduction over the next three years. The personnel cuts were based on a state audit released last year that found that of the county's six public hospitals, King-Drew had a "relatively high" staff-to-patient ratio, indicating lower-than-normal productivity, the highest per-patient daily costs and a decline in the number of children treated. The job cuts could save the county as much as $30 million per year (California Healthline, 6/5). County attorneys said the job cuts would not affect patient care because the hospital is overstaffed. However, the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which filed the suit against the county, argued that eliminating physician and nursing positions would "undeniably hurt patients," the Times reports. More than 100 people protested the hospital staff layoffs Tuesday at the county Board of Supervisors meeting, which was held in accordance with a state law requiring a public hearing before a county can reduce health services. The county and the union will return to court after the restraining order expires on July 15 (Los Angeles Times, 6/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.