Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Firing Five Top King/Drew Officials
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services is in the process of firing five senior officials at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center in response to "mounting troubles" at the facility, according to people familiar with the dismissals, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, the county is sending termination notices to King/Drew CEO Willie May; Associate Medical Director Dr. Alfred Forrest; Nursing Director Rosemary Haggins; Assistant Nursing Director Barbara Bundage; and Dr. Arthur Fleming, surgery chair at King/Drew. The county DHS already had suspended three of the officials, including Haggins and Fleming, who was suspended in December after the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education decided to withdraw approval of King/Drew's surgery training program. Fred Leaf, chief operating officer of DHS, wrote the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Friday, saying that the department was beginning to notify "a number of senior managers at King/Drew" of their termination. County officials said that the King/Drew employees would have opportunities to appeal the firings before they become final but said that they had "gone to great lengths to ensure they had adequately documented the reasons for the decisions," the Times reports. Leaf said that more disciplinary actions were pending, but he did not give details about how many employees were involved.
Leaf said, "The bulk of employees at King are doing a great job. However, a number of individuals are not performing, and we're holding those individuals accountable." Assembly member Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), chair of the Assembly special committee that is investigating problems at King/Drew, said, "Something has to be done to save the hospital," adding, "They're moving in the right direction." Supervisor Don Knabe said that the firings were "one of the largest purges of a county institution that he could recall," according to the Times. He added, "From that standpoint, (the firings) are significant, but King/Drew has significant issues. It just can't go on like it has been" (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/16).
KCET's "Life & Times" on Tuesday will examine the situation at King/Drew (Guinyard, "Life & Times," KCET, 3/16). The complete transcript and audio of the segment in RealPlayer will be available online after the broadcast. In addition, KPCC's "KPCC News" Thursday included an interview with Marc Haefele, an editor and columnist with the Los Angeles Alternative Press, in which he discussed King/Drew (Jahad, "KPCC News," KPCC, 3/11). 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.