June 13, 2008

King Hospital Proposal Heading to UC

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to send a proposal to the University of California today regarding the reopening of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital.

Earlier this week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged officials from Los Angeles County and the University of California to move forward with negotiations to possibly partner to reopen the troubled facility.

UC Provost and Executive Vice President Wyatt "Rory" Hume has said the university system is willing to take part in the effort to reopen the hospital, although it was interested primarily in playing an academic and clinical role -- not an administrative one.

"These discussions should begin with the county outlining their proposals for addressing governance, financing, seismic safety and medical education -- issues that must be addressed to reopen the hospital," the governor said on Tuesday. "I have asked that meetings between L.A. County and UC officials begin immediately to discuss options for reopening MLK."

County officials have been under pressure to reopen King-Harbor, formerly known as Martin Luther King-Drew Medical Center, as a full- service hospital since emergency and in-patient services were halted in August. The facility now operates as an urgent care center.

The reduction of services occurred after King-Drew failed a "make- or- break" inspection by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and was about to lose its federal funding.

Its closure sparked outrage among residents in South Los Angeles and Willowbrook. The hospital was built in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts riots and was a symbol of efforts to revitalize the area while providing medical services to the area's largely low-income population.

County officials had been negotiating with officials from Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, but they pulled out of the talks.

Schwarzenegger said he was anxious to get the hospital reopened.

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