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$500,000 donation approved for nonprofit that will run King hospital

March 30, 2010 | 12:59 pm

Leaders of L.A. Care Health Plan, one of the country’s largest public health plans, voted this week to donate $500,000 to the nonprofit that will run the new Martin Luther King Jr. hospital in Willowbrook scheduled to open in 2012.

“King Drew was a central component of the healthcare delivery system in South Los Angeles. It has been missed, and we are very pleased to be able to provide the initial critical support needed to help the new MLK hospital get on its feet,” said Howard Kahn, the health plan’s CEO.

The donation is a grant from L.A. Care’s Community Health Investment Fund.

The Martin Luther King Jr. hospital nonprofit was created under an agreement approved by University of California Regents in November. It will be governed by a seven-member board of directors -- two appointed by the UC president, two by L.A. County officials and three jointly. The directors, whom officials hope to name within a year, must have at least 10 years' experience in healthcare. It will be up to them to decide whether to operate the hospital themselves or hire another company. L.A. County officials have promised to seek a $100-million letter of credit to underwrite the hospital for up to six years. The county will also contribute $73 million annually to cover expenses and operating costs.

They have already received several donations in support of the hospital.

Los Angeles pharmaceuticals billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has offered a $100-million guaranty to underwrite reopening the hospital. Bob Ross, president and chief executive of the California Endowment, announced a $5-million gift in November. County officials are seeking more grants and donations, according to the chief executive’s staff.

“When the request came from L.A. County to help with establishing this nonprofit, it was something we knew was the right thing to do,” said Dr. Thomas Klitzner, a pediatric cardiologist at UCLA and chairman of L.A. Care’s Board of Governors. “L.A. Care staff will work closely with the county to share our experience to make the hospital a success starting Day One,” Klitzner said.

Founded in 1994, L.A. Care Health Plan now serves about 800,000 Medi-Cal recipients, uninsured children and others in need of healthcare throughout the county.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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