It's a crucial step that could breathe new life to the long-troubled Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital. The UC Board of Regents voted Thursday in Los Angeles to work with the county to reopen emergency and inpatient services at the hospital by 2012.
The hospital, formerly known as King-Harbor, was built to serve one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles in the wake of the 1965 Watts riots. The hospital closed in August 2007 after years of negligence resulting in patient deaths.
Under the arrangement, which still needs final approval from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, UC would provide the physician staff and develop a graduate medical training program, while the county will contribute financially.
"It is important the South Los Angeles community has access to critical medical services and quality health care resources, and this agreement is a significant milestone toward the future of re-opening of the Martin Luther King hospital," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Board of Supervisors could consider the issue as early as its Dec. 1 meeting, said James Bolden, spokesman for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been spearheading efforts to reopen the facility.
The plan envisions reopening the hospital as a 120-bed facility in late 2012, housed in a new seismically compliant patient tower.
An emergency department, housed in a yet-to-be-built adjacent building, would be opened in 2013, followed by a newly constructed "ambulatory care center" to be opened in 2014.