L.A. County Eyes 2013 Re-Opening Of Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center
The ball is in motion for the 2013 opening of the highly anticipated Martin Luther King-Harbor Hospital in South Los Angeles.
The $400 million, 120-bed hospital will be run by a private, nonprofit corporation formed by a partnership between the University of California and the former Martin Luther King Drew facility, which closed in three years ago amid a swirl of controversy over its practices and patient care. Meanwhile, the underserved residents of South Central Los Angeles have had to go as far away as Long Beach to seek care.
Two prominent engineering and construction companies have signed on to the project, and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, in conjunction with public university system, have named a board to oversee operations at the new hospital. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office recently unveiled the renderings of the new facility.
“This is a new, independent, nonprofit board,” said UC spokesman Alec Rosenberg. “It’s going to be a great hospital. The board is a very distinguished board, and the UC did their part in providing the physician services.”
Ridley-Thomas was unavailable for comment for this article. The county health department, nor the Public Works Department, responded to calls and e-mails for comment regarding updates on hospital construction and operations.
Run by the county, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Harbor Hospital, formerly known as King /Drew in acknowledgment of its affiliation with Drew University of Medicine and Science, served one of the neediest populations in the county: inner-city residents with limited access to healthcare.
The hospital came under intense scrutiny in 2007 after years of problems with severe lapses in patient care. Investigations conducted by accreditation associations and media outlets attributed several patient deaths to sheer negligence. In a dramatic attempt to keep the hospital open, King/Drew became King-Harbor after Harbor-UCLA Medical Center agreed to manage the hospital. However, the hospital still remained beset with serious problems, and the county shut it down in August of that year.
Rosenberg said details have yet to be worked out.
“It’s a new government structure,” he said. “This is an independent board. (The UC system) has a lot of experience in healthcare, in working in a community hospital.”
Board members include Manuel A. Abascal, a partner in the litigation department at Latham and Watkins LLP; Dr. Elaine Batchlor, chief medical officer of L.A. Care Health Plan; Linda Griego, president and CEO of Griego Enterprises Inc.; Paul King, president and CEO of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles Medical Group; Michael Madden, retired CEO of Providence Healthcare of Southern California; Dr. Robert Margolis, managing partner and CEO of HealthCare Partners; and James Yoshioka, retired president and CEO of Citrus Valley Health Partners.
A representative for the new board said the members would not be speaking to the media at this time because they had just been appointed to their post.
Two construction engineering companies — Pasadena-based Jacobs Engineering Group, and Jenkins/Gales & Martinez , Inc. — have signed onto the project. The county awarded them a $355 million contract for the project.
Ground was broken in June on the 33,000 square-foot, $20 million South Health Center, which will provide wellness and preventive services and feature a community kitchen and garden. Construction is expected to begin in the coming months on the main Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center, Medical Center campus.
Reach reporter Natalie Ragus here.