Supervisors Criticize Pace of Overhaul at L.A. County Hospital
Los Angeles County supervisors on Monday learned that key parts of plans to overhaul Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital are not effectively being carried out, the Los Angeles Times reports (Connell et al., Los Angeles Times, 6/19).
Los Angeles County health officials in late 2006 proposed the Metrocare plan to help King-Harbor retain federal funding following a failed CMS inspection, when the hospital still was known as King-Drew Medical Center. Along with reassigning staff and transferring oversight, the plan called for downsizing hospital services (California Healthline, 3/28).
Bruce Chernof, county health services director, informed CMS in October 2006 that "every employee and every physician would be reassigned."
However, county officials at a Board of Supervisors budget meeting on Monday said they had reassigned only about one-third of the 1,200 employees that were in the plan's original estimates.
Officials also have told the board that Harbor-UCLA officials have played a smaller role in overseeing the plan.
Gloria Molina, county supervisor, said "We were all assured that Harbor would be supervising here, and they are not anywhere in the process."
The Board of Supervisors has ordered Harbor-UCLA administrators and other officials involved in King-Harbor's overhaul plan to appear at a meeting on Tuesday.
Raising additional concerns about conditions at King-Harbor, the Times reports that 60% of registered and licensed vocational nurses at the facility in April failed at least one part of competency tests.
Also, nearly 50% of the hospital's specialized nurses last month failed at least one section of a separate round of tests, in addition to more than 60% of operating room registered nurses and surgical technicians who also failed part of the tests (Los Angeles Times, 6/19).
As the board of supervisors weighed the state of the hospital, King-Harbor officials on Monday filed a response to a CMS report released this month that found emergency department patients in immediate jeopardy of harm or death, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The hospital in its response listed several corrective steps that have been adopted, including:
- Counseling nurses;
- No longer using physician assistants to screen patients;
- Modifying the triage process; and
- Training ED nurses to notify physicians if a patient needs immediate treatment for pain.
The hospital was given until the end of June to meet minimum federal standards or lose its eligibility to participate in Medicare (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/19). 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.