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Deal will turn a Los Angeles hospital private

New York Times, November 23, 2009

The role of public hospitals in America has been remarkably consistent over the decades, in spite of healthcare policy debates, insurance trends, and shifting medical advice. They were centers of last resort, where the quality of care could be inconsistent and the finances often a disaster, but where the poor could always be served. But a deal struck last week between Los Angeles County and the University of California to rescue the Martin Luther King Jr. hospital followed a pattern set by many other public centers across the nation that have found that teaming with outside help can lead to more efficient operations, and often improved care. The Martin Luther King Jr. hospital, which cared for patients in the severely underserved South Los Angeles area, was closed in 2007 after a series of errors, some of them fatal. But under a proposal approved by the University of California Regents, the hospital, previously known as Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, will no longer be run by the county, but will be a nonprofit organization governed by a seven-member board of directors.