Drew University To Build $43M Research Center Specializing in Minority Health; Deal To Reopen Former Affiliate King-Harbor Falls Through
Officials from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the former affiliate of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, announced on Friday plans to construct a $43 million research and nursing building that will specialize in illnesses that disproportionately affect minorities, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The project will be funded through a state bond offering issued by the California Educational Facilities Authority, which provides financial assistance to private and not-for profit higher education organizations. Research at the center will focus on hypertension, diabetes, cancer and other diseases that affect minority communities in large numbers. The 63,000-square-foot building, scheduled to be completed in 2009, will be named the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing after the state lawmaker who sponsored the legislation to create the school 40 years ago. According to the Times, the "new school will be the first comprehensive training facility for nurses to be built in California in several years and the first ever in" South Los Angeles.
Affiliation With King-Harbor
The new facility is a "key component of an initiative to expand the university," which has faced various credentialing problems for its residency programs since the 1980s. In 2006, county officials cut ties between the university and King-Harbor Hospital and pulled funding for about 250 medical residents at the hospital, which trains medical students to practice in underserved communities. Through a partnership with University of California-Los Angeles, Drew has been able to continue training medical students to work in underserved areas (Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 4/19).
King-Harbor has since downsized to an ambulatory care center, and county officials have been working to secure an affiliate to reopen the hospital. However, negotiations with a private entity failed to go through last week, and King-Harbor CEO Antionette Smith Epps resigned on Friday. The departure of Epps, who took over as CEO in October 2005, has led many community activists to "fear that what remains of King-Harbor ... will go adrift," the Times reports. County supervisors are expected to meet privately on Tuesday to discuss other alternatives to reopen King-Harbor (Renaud/Therolf, Los Angeles Times, 4/19).