Los Angeles County Supervisors Request Plan To Operate King/Drew Medical Center Without Medical School
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday requested that the county Department of Health Services develop operating procedures to run county-owned Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center by May 1 without its affiliated medical school, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, the AP/Fresno Bee reports (AP/Fresno Bee, 3/10). According to the Los Angeles Times, the order was designed to "prod reform" at the school (Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, 3/10). In January, the medical school placed President Dr. Charles Francis on paid administrative leave, following a task force report stating that he had lost the confidence of many members of the hospital's board, faculty and surrounding community. The task force report also said that it is not possible to sustain the school's 18 residency training programs at King/Drew given its average of 200 inpatients; recommended a cooperative medical residency program with a larger, more prestigious institution; called for the school to establish a "culture of accountability"; and recommended a leadership transition at the school. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education last month recommended closing King/Drew's neonatal residency program. ACGME previously found King/Drew's oversight of its medical resident training programs to be substandard and decided to revoke accreditation for the facility's surgery and radiology residency programs, effective June 2004 (California Healthline, 1/14).
Officials from the medical school said that the supervisors were "overlook[ing] aggressive efforts at reform," including changes to the school's board of trustees and a call to national experts to help turn around teaching programs, the Times reports. According to the Times, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky suggested that supervisors could use "political clout" to get the University of Southern California or the University of California-Los Angeles to take over the training programs at King/Drew if necessary. However, neither university has shown interest in taking over such programs. Dr. Harry Douglas, the interim president at King/Drew, said, "There are a lot of concrete things that are occurring," adding, "There is a sense of urgency on all of our parts." Yaroslavsky said, "I want to keep the pressure on." Supervisor Gloria Molina said that the supervisors needed to accept that they also had a part in the problems at King/Drew, saying, "I think it's a two way street. ... The failings are also on our side of the street." Molina made a call for the supervisors to hold "what would certainly be a contentious public hearing in the community" on the hospital reforms, the Times reports. Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, whose district includes King/Drew, said she did not see a reason for a meeting (Los Angeles Times, 3/10).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.