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Health plan chief to head Martin Luther King Jr. hospital

August 27, 2012 |  7:37 am

Martin Luther King Jr. hospital 2004

This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.

The board of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital has appointed a chief executive to run the private, nonprofit medical center, which is scheduled to open in 2014 and replace the troubled King-Drew hospital.

The board appointed Elaine Batchlor, a licensed physician and longtime health administrator, to head the hospital in Willowbrook, south of Watts. Batchlor is the chief medical officer for L.A. Care, the nation’s largest public health plan, where she focused on the underserved community. While at L.A. Care, she advocated for stronger use of technology in medicine and expanded access to medical care.

“I have a real commitment and passion for serving the most vulnerable,” she said during an interview. “My experience and skills were a good match for what the hospital needed.”

The new facility is being built by Los Angeles County but will be run independently. It will include emergency services, labor and delivery and other primary care inpatient services, along with a health education program. The hospital will be licensed for 130 beds, including 21 in the emergency room.

The hospital will work in partnership with UCLA, which will help maintain patient quality and recruit and retain physicians. The board chair, Manny Abascal, said in a statement that the new chief executive has a deep understanding of the community.

“Dr. Batchlor is a compelling leader with a proven track record of dedication to this community and successful implementation of innovative healthcare solutions,” he said.

Batchlor attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University and did her internship, residency and a fellowship at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She also has a master’s in public health from UCLA.

Her new position starts in October.

[For the record, 10:08 a.m.: A previous version of this post stated, and the previous headline indicated, that Batchlor was the former chief of L.A. Care. She still holds that position and will continue to do so until she leaves for her new job. It also stated that L.A. Care is the largest healthcare plan in the nation; it is the largest public healthcare plan.]


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Photo: A patient stands in 2004 outside King-Drew Medical Center, which is closed and will be replaced in 2014 with Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times