Los Angeles County Supervisors Order Garthwaite To Move Office to King/Drew Medical Center To Address Problems
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ordered county Department of Health Services Director Thomas Garthwaite to move his office to Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center to address ongoing problems at the facility, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the Times, after "largely supporting" Garthwaite in his efforts to address the problems, the supervisors "showed scant patience with him or the hospital staff" during the meeting.
"Park yourself" at King/Drew, Supervisor Gloria Molina said to Garthwaite, adding, "Take your schedule. Tear it up and spend every moment that you're working for us working on solving the crisis."
Molina said that policies Garthwaite enacted had been ignored in the past. "We could pass rules all day long, and we have people [at the hospital] who ignore us every single moment of the day," Molina said, adding, "They ignore us. They ignore the community. They ignore their own ethical responsibility to patient care."
Supervisor Mike Antonovich voiced concern about Garthwaite's frequent out-of-town travel and asked the county auditor to examine whether Garthwaite had improperly received payments for speaking engagements.
During the meeting, Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said she would not allow King/Drew to be closed, regardless of problems at the facility (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 4/13).
Garthwaite defended his actions, saying the county DHS already had disciplined hundreds of King/Drew employees (AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/13). However, Garthwaite said that he should have responded more aggressively when problems at King/Drew first were identified, adding, "If I had to do it over again, I would send more people in quicker."
In addition to ordering Garthwaite to relocate his office, supervisors ordered the county DHS to immediately:
- Hire outside intensive-care physicians to monitor patient treatment;
- Recruit nurses to patrol King/Drew's wards to ensure proper patient care; and
- Require that every invasive procedure and diagnostic test performed by doctor trainees at the hospital be directly supervised by a senior doctor.
In addition, they "questioned whether" the millions of dollars being paid to Navigant Consulting to help turn around the hospital "were being well spent," the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 4/13).
According to the AP/Times, the "contentious supervisors' meeting" took place one day after county health officials notified supervisors of two additional deaths at King/Drew related to lapses in patient care. Last week, hospital officials reported the deaths of three other patients following inadequate care in March. CMS Regional Administrator Jeff Flick said Tuesday that the most recent deaths are being reviewed by the agency (AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/13).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.