Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Threatens To Sever Contract With Drew University Medical School
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday issued its "strongest threat yet" to Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, saying that it would sever the county's contract with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science unless provisions were included in the contract being negotiated to "ensure that the school would maintain higher standards," the Los Angeles Times reports. Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Director Thomas Garthwaite and other county DHS officials have been negotiating with Drew University for more than seven months to reach an agreement on a new contract before the existing contract expires Aug. 31.
Supervisors also demanded that Garthwaite hire new leadership for King/Drew and address quality issues at the hospital. Supervisors ultimately agreed to extend the current contract until Sept. 28, but they criticized Garthwaite because they said the proposal did not include provisions to hold the university accountable for physician training programs, the Times reports.
According to the Times, Garthwaite defended the agreement, saying that it did include provisions to ensure accountability and would save the county money, but he "said little in response to criticisms about the hospital."
Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke asked Garthwaite about the status of hiring a new hospital administrator, a position that has been empty for several months. Garthwaite said, "We're working with a headhunter group to identify candidates now."
In response, Supervisor Gloria Molina said, "Everything is 'in process.' Everything is, 'We're going to do this, we're going to do that.'... Every time we ask for accountability, it's somewhere in the future." Molina said, "I want to give [Drew University] a chance, but under this ... agreement, I don't think they deserve a chance" (Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, 8/11).