King/Drew Medical Center Passes Inspection, Remains Eligible for Federal Funding
Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center will remain eligible for federal funding after passing an unannounced re-inspection of the facility's psychiatric and telemetry units, the Los Angeles Times reports (Ornstein/Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 2/16).
CMS officials had threatened to withhold federal funding to the hospital over allegations that administrators allowed police to use Taser stun guns to subdue aggressive psychiatric patients (California Healthline, 1/3).
The recent inspection, which was the facility's final opportunity to remain eligible for funding, began at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, three days before a CMS-instituted deadline (Los Angeles Times, 2/16). CMS and Department of Health Services officials monitored hospital workers' responses to calls for assistance in managing an aggressive patient's behavior in the psychiatric and telemetry units (AP/Fresno Bee, 2/16).
CMS Regional Administrator Jeff Flick said, "It wasn't a close call; they made it easy," adding that King/Drew personnel "were obviously ready. They were obviously prepared."
Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said, "I think it's going to make a difference in the morale of the staff. People are coming together and working together to solve problems."
Elliot Cohen, a Navigant Consulting representative currently serving as King/Drew's interim CEO, said, "There's been a lot of negative information out there. With an example like today's success, that will help turn the tide" (Los Angeles Times, 2/16).
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Director Thomas Garthwaite said, "Today's survey illustrates the positive progress achieved when staff and physicians work together as a team. Clearly there is much work ahead, but this is a critically important step in ensuring a viable, safe and operationally sound hospital for patients and staff alike" (AP/Fresno Bee, 2/16).
Supervisor Don Knabe said, "We have to continue to be very aggressive about trying to fix the problems out there," adding that King/Drew's problems with federal regulators could continue.
In related news, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at its weekly meeting on Tuesday rejected Supervisor Mike Antonovich's motion that the board meet monthly to focus on health care issues rather than establish a separate oversight board, which Navigant recommended.
Antonovich said, "The board of supervisors is the governing authority, and we cannot delegate that authority, and if we continue to stick our head in the sand, we're going to have future Martin Luther King problems. We have a responsibility, and if we fail, we can only blame ourselves" (Los Angeles Times, 2/16).