Nightmare public hospital to be reborn as private hospital

Lita Epstein

You may remember the video reports of Edith Rodriguez, a 43-year-old woman seen dying in the emergency room of a hospital in Los Angeles. Well, that hospital was the Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, which was closed in 2007 after the facility failed a make or break inspection that meant the loss of $200 million in federal funds.

Now a significantly smaller hospital may be opened in its place as the Martin Luther King Jr. medical facility, which will be a private non-profit facility run jointly by the county of Los Angeles and the University of California. The original hospital at one point had as many as 400 beds and the new hospital will be downsized to 120 beds. There will be an emergency room but no trauma center.

The county will contribute $50 million annually to cover expenses and operating costs and $13.3 million a year toward the care of uninsured patients. The university will provide 14 to 20 physicians and medical oversight for the in-patient hospital with a goal of eventually providing medical residents to train there.