LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Supervisors Will Review Harbor-UCLA Renovation Plans
Los Angeles County Supervisors last week agreed to commission a four-month study of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to determine whether a $230-million renovation should proceed as planned, the Los Angeles Times reports. The renovation plan has been delayed for seven years. Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke has been trying to revive the plan since December, when she proposed to "fast-track the project by spending $1.7 million to update the design on the new surgery and emergency rooms." In doing so, she warned that, without renovations, the hospital's federal accreditation could be jeopardized. She added that failing to update the project plans by the state's June 30 deadline would result in an $80 million loss in state funding. But Burke -- who represents the district that houses Harbor-UCLA -- relented when the state granted the county health department a six-month reprieve on the funding request. As it stands, the 340-bed public hospital that serves many of the county's uninsured is so cramped that "gurneys are crammed next to each other," while overloaded outlets have caused power outages. Admitting that the hospital needs renovations, three supervisors -- including Gloria Molina who has "fought bitterly" against the downsizing of her district's County-USC Medical Center -- voiced concerns that the "project may be to ambitious" and "rushing" into the renovations could promote wasteful spending practices similar to those that nearly caused the county to go bankrupt in 1995. For her part, Burke maintains "No one wants to overbuild anything. I'm not trying to build a temple. I'm just trying to take care of a hospital so it doesn't close down." Harbor-UCLA administrator Teckla Mickoseff understands the need to review the project's scope, but said she hopes "we do that expeditiously so we can revise and move on and not wait another seven years" (Riccardi, 1/17).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.