King-Harbor Closure Shifts Focus of L.A. County Health Chief
Bruce Chernof, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, is pushing for Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital to be reopened, as county supervisors and others rehash Chernof's work to overhaul the facility, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 8/18).
CMS officials on Friday announced that King-Harbor no longer will be eligible to receive $200 million in federal funding after failing two inspections. CMS found the hospital fell below minimum federal standards in eight out of 23 areas assessed in an inspection last month.
The hospital has been out of compliance with federal standards since January 2004 (California Healthline, 8/14).
Since being hired last year, Chernof worked to bring the facility into compliance by eliminating specialty services, reducing inpatient beds and transferring management of the hospital to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
However, following the hospital's closure, Chernof now is charged with overseeing where King-Harbor's displaced patients will receive services, how medical staff will be distributed elsewhere and whether a private operator will take over the facility.
Lark Galloway-Gilliam, executive director of Community Health Councils, said, "Often times, [he] didn't include people in the very community he's focusing his efforts on."
Chernof said his focus has been "doing what we need to do to provide quality care that meets national standards." He said it is the department's duty, not his, to respond to community concerns and focus on public outreach (Los Angeles Times, 8/18).
Following the closure of King-Harbor Hospital, the county "should ask the Legislature to establish a quasi-public health authority" and "transfer to it all current health funding ... as well as the obligation to provide health care to the poor and uninsured," Brian Johnston writes in a Times opinion piece.
The county "has a health care system" that "has adopted policies exacerbating our growing crisis and demonstrated a stubborn inability to correct its failures," according to Johnston. "The rational decision is to move to a health authority," Johnston concludes (Johnston, Los Angeles Times, 8/18).
Also on the subject of King-Harbor, KPCC's "KPCC News" on Monday reported on concerns from public health advocates about access to emergency medical care in South Los Angeles. The segment includes comments from:
- Lee Weiss, medical director of Centinela Hospital; and
- Patients at Centinela (Nazario, "KPCC News," KPCC, 8/20).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online. 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.