Los Angeles County Officials Mull Options for Troubled Hospital
A majority of Los Angeles County supervisors said they will vote on Tuesday to begin the process of closing Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The supervisors said the vote will allow the county to adopt a contingency plan for the hospital's patients in case the facility fails a federal inspection in August and loses its state license and federal funding.
The hospital since 2004 has failed to comply with CMS minimum patient care standards.
Supervisor Gloria Molina said, "There's real jeopardy that we may be in a situation where we are going to be closed down." She added, "That's more dangerous, because then we'll be ill-prepared and ... create a real flood for other hospitals. This is a much more effective way."
The announcements by the supervisors came one day after the Department of Health Services informed county officials that it was moving to revoke the hospital's license following federal patient care violations.
Hospitals are required by state law to give 90 days' notice before an ED can be shut down. Support to immediately begin that process suggests that supervisors do not intend to challenge the state if the license is revoked, the Times reports (Ornstein/Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 6/23).
Two of the five county supervisors did not comment on the announcement by the other supervisors (Pierson/Barboza, Los Angeles Times, 6/24).
Bruce Chernof, county health director, said he would not recommend that supervisors move to begin closing the hospital immediately while it prepares for the federal inspection. He added, however, "I would respect the board's decision if they chose to move forward."
Under Chernof's contingency plan:
- King-Harbor would continue to operate outpatient clinics in pediatrics, general medicine and other fields;
- The hospital would operate an urgent care center that would be open 16 hours daily and staffed by contract physicians;
- Ambulance traffic would be diverted to other hospitals;
- Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center would add acute care beds for King-Harbor patients;
- The county would pay private hospitals to care for indigent patients; and
- The county would seek bids from private hospital companies to reopen and operate King-Harbor's emergency department and inpatient services. The process would take about a year (Los Angeles Times, 6/23).
Three broadcast programs recently reported on the state's move to revoke the hospital's license. Summaries appear below.
- KPCC's "KPCC News": The segment includes comments from Chernof (Davis, "KPCC News," KPCC, 6/22). Audio of the segment is available online.
- KPCC's "Morning Edition": The segment includes a discussion with Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry (Julian, "Morning Edition," KPCC, 6/22). Audio of the segment is available online.
- KPCC's "Patt Morrison": The segment includes a discussion with Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 6/22). Audio of the segment is available online.