University of California To Re-Examine Operating King-Harbor
The University of California has renewed its interest in becoming the operator of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital but in a limited role, UC Provost Wyatt Hume said Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Therolf, Los Angeles Times, 5/17). In August, Los Angeles County officials shut down the hospital, which served mostly minority and low-income patients, after it failed a critical federal inspection. Five health care organizations last fall formally submitted proposals to reopen King-Harbor (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 5/16).
UC -- one of the five to submit a proposal -- has been Los Angeles County's leading candidate for the role. Because the negotiations with the other organizations have failed, UC is the "last, best hope" for reopening King-Harbor, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has said. In January, UC President Robert Dynes said the university was not in a position to solely operate and reopen King-Harbor, citing funding concerns and a need to focus on other priorities, according to the Times.
Hume last week said the university system would explore all options for its role in reopening the hospital, but officials would prefer to limit UC's role to an academic and clinical partnership and have an outside organization manage the hospital's administration. He said the hospital's large number of uninsured patients could make it unaffordable for the UC system to serve as the sole operator.
In addition, UC might not agree with the county Board of Supervisors on how to run the hospital independently, Hume said. In the Times last week, Yaroslavsky outlined how UC and the supervisors could come to an agreement on the hospital's operation, "including a promise to cede the governance and day-to-day management of the hospital to the university," the Times reports.
Hume said, "We are willing to look at anything that will help the state and the people of South-Central Los Angeles," adding, "We've always been supportive of health care in South-Central, so it's not a new area for us, and we'll continue that commitment." He added that funding is key in the issue. "Financing health care is not simple. We wouldn't want to go into it in a way that would damage our other programs" (Therolf, Los Angeles Times, 5/17).