Los Angeles County Might Impose Sanctions on Drew University Medical School
Los Angeles County is considering issuing sanctions against Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science for allegedly failing to comply with some requirements in its contract to administer physician-training programs at Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the Times, the county renewed its contract with Drew in September 2004. The term of the contract is for 21 months, instead of the usual five years. The county also spelled out sanctions for noncompliance with the provisions of the contract.
County health officials said that Drew has not met a deadline for submitting required information about its physician-training programs, three of which had lost accreditation prior to the contract's renewal. In a March 10 letter, the county said it had given Drew extra time to comply with the contract but that the school now must meet its commitments.
Thomas Garthwaite, director of the county Department of Health Services, said that continuing problems at King/Drew have slowed progress on two main areas of the contract. Drew University has not yet transferred oversight of its residency programs to the county as the contract requires. The university also has not yet identified which residency programs should be eliminated or cut back as recommended in December 2003.
Garthwaite said, "I remain cautiously encouraged that the board has taken some good steps, but we need to see more than that. I really think that we don't have the luxury of time."
John Wallace, a spokesperson for the county DHS, said the county likely will fine the school $10,000 to $20,000.
Drew officials said they have made significant improvements in their programs and are implementing the provisions of the contract.
In a March 18 open letter to the community, Drew officials wrote, "Drew University has not been without its own issues and need for change. But the university has met its challenges, changed its course, stabilized its finances, strengthened its programs and is poised for growth in the future."
Harry Douglas, Drew's interim president, said the university is doing everything it can to comply with the provisions of the contract, adding, "If they want to impose sanctions, that's their prerogative, but I don't think there's any reason to impose sanctions." He added that, overall, the relationship between the school and the county has improved.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "The hospital is a sick place, and the university is a sick place, and they both have to be rehabilitated. I'm not as troubled by the individual hiccups that occur along the way as I am at the general direction that both the hospital and the university are going in. I think the jury is still out on both cases."
Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said, "We're all trying to help, and we're trying to make sure that the affiliation agreement is extended, and the only way we can do that is if we have their total 100% cooperation. We can't fight to get it extended unless they abide by it" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/29).