Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Debate Oversight of Medical Training at King/Drew Medical Center
Los Angeles County Supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky on Tuesday engaged in "a heated debate" over whether to invite University of California-Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine Dean Gerald Levey to discuss the possibility of UCLA assuming responsibility for physician training at of Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the Times, the incident "illustrates the pressure building on supervisors to quickly address a host of deficiencies" at King/Drew (Briscoe, Los Angeles Times, 1/7). Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, which is affiliated with King/Drew, on Friday placed its president, Dr. Charles Francis, on paid administrative leave following a task force report stating that he has lost the confidence of many on the board, the faculty and the surrounding community. The task force report also said that it was not possible to sustain the school's 18 residency training programs at King/Drew given its average of 200 inpatients; recommended a cooperative medical residency program with a larger, more prestigious institution; called for the school to establish a "culture of accountability"; and recommended a leadership transition at the school. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education last month recommended closing King/Drew's neonatal residency program. ACGME previously found King/Drew's oversight of its medical resident training programs to be substandard and decided to revoke accreditation for the facility's surgery and radiology residency programs, effective June 2004 (California Healthline, 1/5). According to the Times, Burke, whose district includes the hospital, suggested that the board invite Levey to attend next week's meeting, but Yaroslavsky recommended that the board first develop a "roadmap" listing the problems at King/Drew that Dr. Thomas Garthwaite, director of the county Department of Health Services, had outlined. The board scheduled for Tuesday a hearing at which Garthwaite will update supervisors on the status of hospital operations (Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
Summaries of recent letters to the editor in response to a Jan. 2 Los Angeles Times editorial addressing King/Drew are provided below.
- The problem that King/Drew faces is "fundamentally one of finance," Assembly member Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) writes in the Los Angeles Times. According to Dymally, Drew University will survive because its problems are being reviewed and dealt with, while King/Drew "will only survive if and when ... DHS allocates adequate funds, management, staff and oversight to assure its survival at a standard that the county can maintain" (Dymally, Los Angeles Times, 1/6).
- If physician training at King/Drew is eliminated, people in the surrounding community, who are "often the sickest of the sick," will receive "even less medical care than at present," Dr. Mayer Davidson, director of Charles R. Drew University's Clinical Trials Unit, writes in the Times. "We need to 'shape up' Drew University, not 'ship (it) out'," Mayer writes, adding, "Who does the Times think will go to South Los Angeles and take care of the poor, mostly uninsured patients who need hospitalization, if physicians in training are no longer available?" (Los Angeles Times, 1/6).