Corporate Compliance

Regulators contemplate closing California hospital

Compliance Monitor, June 27, 2007

California and federal regulators are threatening to close Los Angeles County's public Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital or pull its funding unless the hospital can be improved, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

The threat comes one month after a 43-year-old woman died on the hospital's emergency room floor when staff refused to treat her.

After the woman initially collapsed from her illness, surveillance cameras show that she was left for dead on the floor. Nurses walked past her. A janitor cleaned up around her. No one did anything until police were called to cart her away.

"This needs to stop," state Health Services Director Sandra Shewry told the AP as the agency moved to revoke the hospital's license. "We're doing this in response to the egregious incidents that have come to light in the last six weeks."

The hospital, formerly known as Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center, was built after the 1965 Watts riot to bring healthcare to poor, minority communities in south Los Angeles. Over the last few years, the county said it has reorganized management, closed the trauma unit and reduced the number of beds from 200 to 48.

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