Los Angeles County Supervisors Considering Outsourcing King/Drew Medical Center
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is discussing the possibility of outsourcing Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center to a private company after two years of attempts to correct problems in patient care and management, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the Times, supervisors are giving the idea "new urgency" after an inspection of the facility completed on Friday found continuing problems. A memo from county Department of Health Services COO Fred Leaf noted at least two patient care errors and "too many pharmacy errors and too many cases of drugs being administered late." The Times obtained a copy of the memo.
County lawyers are studying whether the county legally can transfer administration of King/Drew to a private company or whether such a move would constitute an illegal gift of public funds. They also are studying whether a new firm would have to employ the hospital's current staff or whether the staff would have to be transferred.
If the county contracts with a private company, it could pay the company to provide care for the uninsured but otherwise would not have authority over decisions about hiring, firing or contracting.
Health officials said the hospital might have to close temporarily if a private company takes control to allow it time to hire staff. However, some members of the hospital's advisory board have voiced concerns that the facility would not reopen.
Supervisors could vote on the issue as early as August. Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky have expressed some support for the idea, according to the Times.
The Department of Health Services also is considering whether to require the closure of some patient care units, suspend the hospital's license or revoke its license.
Brenda Klutz, DHS' deputy director of licensing and certification, said, "We continually ask ourselves if we're doing enough when reviewing the situation at King/Drew," adding that DHS has "very serious concerns about some areas in the hospital" (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 6/28).