Plan for King/Drew Medical Center Would Eliminate Some Inpatient Departments, Expand Outpatient Services
As expected, Los Angeles County officials on Thursday recommended eliminating some services at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, changes that could "effectively turn King/Drew into a small community hospital," the Los Angeles Times reports. The plan recommends closing pediatrics, obstetrics and neonatology patient care wards.
In briefings with the county Board of Supervisors, Thomas Garthwaite, director of the county Department of Health Services, recommended against reopening the facility's trauma center in the near future and said that King/Drew also should reduce cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery and other services required to reopen the trauma unit.
According to the Times, the patient care wards recommended for closure have 38 patients daily on average, or about 22% of King/Drew's 176 daily patients on average.
The plan also proposes expanding some outpatient care services to address area residents' chronic health care needs more effectively. The proposal would expand the following outpatient services:
- Cancer detection and treatment;
- High cholesterol;
- Hypertension; and
Garthwaite said the plan initially would save the county about $3.7 million annually and eliminate 210 to 260 jobs. He also said the plan would help the county restructure staffing at King/Drew.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky voiced support for the proposal, and Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said she wanted some questions answered before taking a position on it. Other supervisors declined to comment.
Community advocates, some area residents and some members of King/Drew's medical staff voiced opposition to the plan.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider the plan at a meeting on Aug. 16. If approved, a second public hearing would be required before changes could be implemented, a process that is expected to take about six months (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/5).
Navigant Consulting personnel under contract to administer King/Drew did not fully investigate or promptly report to the county DHS two quality-of-care issues that led to patient deaths, Navigant Managing Director Hank Wells confirmed this week, the Times reports. Wells, who currently is serving as King/Drew's interim CEO, said that the firm should have disclosed the events to the county earlier but that the incidents were not "intentional delays."
Under a one-year contract with the county Board of Supervisors, Navigant personnel are responsible for overseeing operations at the facility.
In March, a patient died after nurses allegedly did not respond to his bedside vitals monitor. A Navigant staff member learned of the incident "within days" but did not fully investigate the matter or inform county DHS until June, according to the Times.
Kae Robertson, managing director of Navigant, told the Board of Supervisors in July that Navigant personnel had not learned of the incident until June. Robertson on Tuesday sent a letter to the board correcting her comments.
In the other issue, a nurse allegedly fell asleep while a patient was undergoing dialysis. According to Wells and a chronology of events prepared by county DHS, Navigant personnel were aware of the incident the same day but did not inform the department for another week.
State health officials currently are investigating both incidents (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/4).
KPCC's "AirTalk" on Wednesday included an interview with Los Angeles Times reporter Charles Ornstein about King/Drew (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 8/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.