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Plans to reopen Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in South L.A. move forward

July 13, 2010 |  2:58 pm
Kinghospital The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday formally approved an agreement with the University of California that is expected to reopen Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in the South Los Angeles area.

Tuesday’s action permits county Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka to work with the university system to create a private nonprofit facility, known as HospitalCo, that will run the hospital, which is expected to open in 2013. It will be smaller than it was before, operating at 120 beds instead of 233.

Under the agreement, the county will supply the building and financial support for the hospital in Willowbrook, south of Watts. UC is responsible for providing a chief medical officer and physicians and working with accrediting agencies to reestablish a teaching program at King.

The next step will be for the county and university to appoint members of a board of directors to supervise HospitalCo. Two will be appointed by the county, two by the university, and three jointly by the two entities.
The arrangement will make the new King unique among county hospitals, being run by an independent authority and overseen by a board of directors whose members will each have at least 10 years of experience in healthcare. In contrast, the other four county hospitals are run by the county Department of Health Services, which is overseen by Fujioka, who, in turn, reports to the Board of Supervisors.

The county-run Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, previously known as King/Drew, shut down its emergency room and inpatient services in 2007 after years of patient-care and other problems.

The hospital served a population that is one of the neediest in the county – primarily low-income people living in the inner-city who have limited access to healthcare services.

The UC Board of Regents is expected to review the agreement later this week.

“This agreement is great news for the people of South Los Angeles who are looking forward to the new hospital providing the quality health care they deserve,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II reporting from the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration

Photo:Outpatients and family members of those receiving care wait outside Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center in November 2009. Plans call for it to reopen as a hospital by 2013. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times