MLK Jr.-Harbor Hospital to Reopen Courtesy UC System

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles County officials unveiled a plan Wednesday to partner with the University of California system to create a private nonprofit corporation that will reopen and operate Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital.

Under the proposal, the county would contribute financially to the hospital to ensure its viability, while relying on the University of California to provide the physician staff and develop a graduate medical training program for the hospital.

The plan envisions reopening the hospital as a 120-bed facility in late 2012, housed in the new seismically compliant patient tower at the King-Harbor site. The county would pay for the work on the existing tower, as well as constructing a multi-service ambulatory care center and ancillary services building that would include an emergency department, according to county CEO William Fujioka.

"This is a good day for us," Fujioka said.

A seven-member board of directors, including two members chosen by the county, two chosen by the university and three chosen jointly by the two would govern the nonprofit, Fujioka said.

"At minimum, what we're looking for is people who have 10 years of health care management experience," he said.

Once established, the board would hire a private operator to provide administrative and ancillary services for the hospital, Fujioka said.

The concept was borne out of discussions between county officials and representatives from both the state and the university, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and UC President Mark Yudof.

The proposal still has to be approved by both the county Board of Supervisors and the UC Board of Regents. Fujioka said he planned to brief the supervisors about the plan on Tuesday, and an update on the plan will be presented to the regents on March 19.

"The people of South Los Angeles deserve access to needed, quality medical services, and this proposed plan provides an important framework for addressing this community's health care needs," Schwarzenegger said. "The University of California brings incredible talent to the table and an ability to support Los Angeles County's goal and my goal of ensuring the residents of South Los Angeles have quality care."

County officials pledged that providing quality patient care would be the hospital's top priority, alluding to quality-of-service issues that led to the hospital's closure after failing a federal inspection in August 2007.

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