Los Angeles County Considering Plan To Hire Private Consultant To Manage King/Drew Medical Center
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is expected to approve a plan under which Illinois-based Navigant Consulting would take over day-to-day operations of Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reports (Chong, Los Angeles Times, 10/14). The Board of Supervisors in September unanimously supported a plan to close the hospital's trauma center and hire outside managers to run the hospital to address other problems (California Healthline, 10/13).
If the plan is approved, it would mark the first time the county has allowed an outside group to take over operations at one of its hospitals. Navigant could begin work as early as Nov. 1 (AP/Fresno Bee, 10/14).
County officials leaders on Wednesday presented to supervisors' aides a plan under which the county would pay Navigant as much as $13.25 million to take over management of King/Drew from county officials for at least one year. Navigant plans to complete a "top-to-bottom" review of facility operations and make recommendations for changes, the Times reports. The head of the consulting team would report to county Department of Health Services Director Thomas Garthwaite, who would have to approve any firing or disciplining of employees.
According to county officials, a team of 23 Navigant consultants plans to:
- Assess each doctor's and nurse's competence and productivity;
- Review each department, including the emergency department;
- Implement a plan to computerize records, including staff nursing reports;
- Find permanent executives to fill vacant management spots;
- Strengthen the peer-review process;
- Confirm all physician credentials;
- Reduce ED wait times; and
- Improve medical error reporting.
Fred Leaf, chief operating officer of county DHS, said Navigant has received "good reviews" from other projects, and officials were impressed by the company's "deep resources" of health care experts on staff. He added, "I think this is an extremely comprehensive plan. I anticipate a lot of questions (from supervisors), but I do anticipate approval of the plan."
Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, said, "This hospital has 30 years of defective management culture to turn around. To ask [Navigant] to do that is to walk on water."
Kathy Ochoa, a senior health policy analyst for Service Employees International Union Local 660, said, "If the intent is to strengthen the institution ... our belief is that those most impacted by the decision need to have a say in the process. We want to make sure there's the right oversight in place."
Timothy Watkins, president of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, said, "I'm skeptical because all these plans are being generated from an external point of view. The community keeps crying out and begging to be included."
Gloria Walton, a member of Action for Grassroots Empowerment and Neighborhood Development Alternatives, said she supports the plan but that the cost is "an outrageous amount of money" (Los Angeles Times, 10/14).
KPCC's "Air Talk" on Wednesday included a discussion of the situation at King/Drew. The segment includes comments from Assembly member Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton); Joe Hicks, vice president of Community Advocates; and Connie Rice, civil rights attorney (Mantle, "Air Talk," KPCC, 10/13). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.