Editor's note (June 14): The first 40 beds of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital are now scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2013.
By Alec Rosenberg
A University of California-Los Angeles County partnership is on schedule to have the first 40 beds of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital operating by the last quarter of 2012.
The UC Board of Regents voted in November to enter into a coordination agreement with the county to create a private, nonprofit corporation that will reopen and run MLK Hospital in South Los Angeles.
Regents received an update on the progress at their meeting today (May 20). Los Angeles County has appointed a project leader for a new, seismically safe 120-bed MLK Hospital on the grounds of the old facility.
"Everything seems to be proceeding just as we had hoped it would be," Regent Sherry Lansing said.
The hospital, which will include an emergency room and three operating rooms, will address the major health needs of the community — hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity — by emphasizing medical care and de-emphasizing surgical care. The governor and Los Angeles County officials approached UC to discuss reopening MLK Hospital shortly after it ceased inpatient services in August 2007.
UC will enter into a contractual agreement with the new nonprofit entity to provide physician services for MLK Hospital. Staffing likely will involve roughly 14 to 20 UC-employed physicians, supplemented with community-based physicians from White Memorial and Harbor-UCLA physician groups. UC also will establish standards pertaining to quality assurance and lead efforts to re-establish training programs at the facility. The nonprofit corporation, at its own expense, will employ — or contract with a third party other than UC or Los Angeles County — for the non-physician personnel working at the hospital.
The nonprofit corporation will have an appointed governing board of seven members: two each appointed by Los Angeles County and the UC president and three jointly appointed by Los Angeles County and the UC president. After sending out more than 300 letters to stakeholders, more than 50 names of potential members were collected and the field has been narrowed to about a dozen candidates with "broad experience in health care," said Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services. The board is expected to be in place by the end of June, he said.
UC will not be financially liable for the nonprofit entity that will operate the proposed new hospital. UC will not contribute funds to the hospital. Los Angeles County will provide $50 million in startup funds, a $353.8 million capital project commitment and $63 million per year in operating funds. For the first six years after the hospital has opened, payment of Los Angeles County's operating funds shall be secured by a $100 million letter of credit the county obtained from a major lending institution.
Los Angeles County, UC and state officials are pursuing legislation to guarantee a level of medical funding to support the financial model for successful operation of the hospital. AB 2599 is working its way through the Assembly.
To supplement the letter of credit, the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, chaired by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, has pledged a $100 million underwriting guaranty to help Los Angeles County and UC reopen the hospital. Those discussions remain on track, Stobo said.
For more information, visit www.mlkhospital.org.