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Reopening of King hospital may be pushed back again

November 3, 2009 |  3:36 pm

Los Angeles County officials indicated today that they will likely be forced to once again delay the reopening of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital — this time to 2013.

[An earlier version of this post referred to the facility as Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, the name the hospital used at the time of it was closed to inpatients.]

It was the latest in a series of postponements for the Willowbrook facility. When supervisors voted to close in-patient services in August 2007, they promised to reopen it in 2009. When Mark Ridley-Thomas was elected last year, he promised to reopen in 2010. In August this year, he joined his board colleagues to approve a plan to reopen in 2012.

At today's board meeting, the county’s point person for health services construction, Jan Takada, reported that the latest target was March, 2013. He blamed a number of factors, including the still-pending agreement with the University of California to partner with the county to reopen the hospital. The selection of an architect also took more time than expected, he said.

Nevertheless, Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes King, said he was not yet ready to accept the most recent delay and still aimed for a 2012 reopening.

“It will be difficult, but we are going to push very, very hard,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We will be appointing a special team to expedite this...to cut through the bureaucracy.”

Ridley-Thomas also emphasized that many other improvements will be completed far sooner, including improved and expanded outpatient clinic facilities on the King campus.

“I’m expecting a lot of good news,” Ridley-Thomas said. “This is poised to be one of the most exciting medical campuses in the whole region.”

--Garrett Therolf reporting from the L.A. County Hall of Administration