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County supervisors to vote on plans to reopen MLK hospital

August 18, 2009 | 12:25 pm

Hundreds of residents are gathered at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration today in anticipation of a scheduled vote by county supervisors to move ahead on a plan to reopen inpatient services at Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in Willowbrook.

The plan — which calls on the county to reopen the hospital in partnership with the University of California — has been the subject of intense closed-door negotiations for months, but the vote today would give authorization for County Chief Executive William T Fujioka to formally present the plan to the university’s Board of Regents next month and commence public deliberations on the plan.

The plan is already the subject of excitement in the community surrounding the shuttered hospital, however, and a town hall organized by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas earlier this month to present the plan drew a large crowd.

At today’s meeting, Supervisor Don Knabe admonished the crowd to refrain from booing or clapping and called on attendees to discuss the plan in a “civil manner.”

“Many of us in this room are on the same side, so that’s good,” Knabe said. “We all want to reopen the hospital.”

Inpatient services at the hospital were shut down in August 2007 after years of repeated failures to provide adequate care, including errors involved in multiple deaths. The final case was that of a 43-year-old woman who was seen on a widely aired videotape writhing unattended on the floor of the emergency room lobby for 45 minutes.

-- Garrett Therolf reporting from the County Hall of Administration