Los Angeles County DHS To Recommend Service Reductions at King/Drew Medical Center
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services this week plans to recommend cutting some services at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center to make the hospital's costs more consistent with other county hospitals and alter its mission, the Los Angeles Times reports. King/Drew's per-patient spending for years has exceeded that of three other county general hospitals.
King/Drew in the last fiscal year saw a 25% decrease in emergency department visits, a 12% decrease in outpatient visits and a 9% decrease in patient discharges. However, its budget for the year is $470.8 million, 11.3% higher than last year.
Meanwhile, nearby Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, which now is larger than King/Drew has a budget that is $113.4 million less than King/Drew's. The Times attributes the discrepancy to inefficiency resulting in part from the county's failure to reduce staffing at King/Drew following the closure of the hospital's trauma unit in March.
In addition, the hospital is spending $15 million on outside consultants to run operations for a year and "millions more" for contract nurses to offset a lack of nursing personnel on staff at the facility, the Times reports.
County officials say the other three public hospitals have not suffered because of the funding allocated to King/Drew, but with an anticipated budget shortfall in the next few years, some hospitals might be forced to close.
Gail Anderson, medical director of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said resources should be matched with the volume of patients and called on county officials to investigate the discrepancy.
However, others say the additional funding for King/Drew is necessary to ensure access to care for the low-income patients the hospital serves.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider DHS' proposals Aug. 16 (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/3).