What to do about King/Drew?

Times are tough for LA’s county-run Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center. On Tuesday, a national hospital accreditation group revoked its seal of approval because King/Drew did not meet quality standards. And yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it might cut off $200 million per year in payments. Without the money the medical center would be forced to close. In the fall, the county entered into a year-long contract with Navigant Consulting to run day-to-day operations, with hopes of turning things around. King/Drew’s problems have been long-standing, and, as this LA Times special report reveals, often frightening:

A yearlong investigation by a team of reporters determined that errors and neglect at the 32-year-old facility in Willowbrook, south of Watts, had repeatedly harmed or killed patients. Entire departments at the hospital, founded with high hopes after the 1965 Watts riots, were found to be rife with incompetence, infighting and, sometimes, criminality. The failings cannot be ascribed to sparse funding, as the hospital’s supporters often have done. The Times found that by the standards of most public hospitals in California, King/Drew is well-funded. The money, however, is often wasted.

Privatization Watch tackles heath care in an upcoming issue. Stay tuned.