Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors To Vote on Proposal To Close King/Drew Trauma Center
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is expected to vote to close the trauma center at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, despite protests from city political leaders and community members, the Sacramento Bee reports (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 11/22). Closing the trauma center is "crucial to turning around" the hospital, county officials have said, the Los Angeles Times reports (Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 11/22).
Regulators repeatedly have cited King/Drew for patient care problems, and the board in September proposed closing the trauma center and hiring outside managers to operate the hospital. The King/Drew trauma center, which provides care for patients with life-threatening injuries, treats about 2,150 patients annually, and the hospital emergency department treats 45,000 patients annually (California Healthline, 11/17).
Four of the five supervisors -- Don Knabe, Zev Yaroslavsky, Mike Antonovich and Gloria Molina -- "are strongly inclined to close the trauma center," according to the Times.
Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke withdrew her endorsement of the proposed closure after she received complaints from the South Los Angeles community, where residents say closing the trauma unit will jeopardize patients who will have to travel farther for care. However, other supervisors said such concerns were not raised among their constituencies, the Times reports.
Knabe said, "These are painful decisions, but you have to take this dramatic action to try and save the hospital." Antonovich said, "The clock has been ticking. We need to make a decision. We need to move forward." He added, "There has been too much compromise in the past" (Los Angeles Times, 11/22).
Thomas Garthwaite, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said, "I cannot condone sending the patients who are the most in need to a facility that is itself injured and in need of rehabilitation."
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said, "It is time to fix [King/Drew] and not close down part of it. We don't intend to lose a hospital named after the greatest civil rights leader in the modern world" (Sacramento Bee, 11/22).
Los Angeles City Council member Janice Hahn added, "Minutes count in a trauma injury. People are going to lose their lives in South Los Angeles because people are going to have to travel farther" (Los Angeles Times, 11/22).