Major L.A. hospital to close

King-Drew Hospital

King-Harbor hospital in Los Angeles just lost federal funding and will be closing after failing a must-pass federal test. This has been a long time coming, and was triggered after “a series of patient deaths was linked to serious lapses in care by nurses and other staff members.”

How bad did it get there?

May 2007: A 43-year-old woman dies after writhing in pain for 45 minutes on the floor of the hospital’s emergency room lobby. Hospital staff ignore her; a janitor mops around her. The events are captured on videotape and receive national attention.

Sounds like some Third World hellhole of a hospital, doesn’t it? It’s hard to comprehend how things got so out of control, even after the city and county poured in tens of millions trying to fix it.

I mean, how can a major hospital be allowed to fail in a supposedly world-class city? A bridge collapses in Minneapolis, subways flood in New York City, and now a major hospital is closing in L.A. Our infrastructure and support systems are endangered and crumbling.

A real good first step would to be stop spending hundreds of billions on war and use that money to repair and rebuild the country instead.

  • DJ

    Infrastructure doesn’t provide a platform of urgency to get you re-elected, and it doesn’t permit you to grab power by restricting personal freedoms.

    Besides, those hundreds of bllions being spent on the war aren’t tax dollars– they’re borrowed money that some future generation will get taxed to pay back.

    Let’s face it: even without the war, the U. S. government isn’t solvent, because a balanced budget does not include sufficient resources to maintain (and now replace) existing infrastructure. In other words, we’re using our assets for day-to-day expenses. That’s how governments go bankrupt. NYC did it and needed a bailout, but who’s going to bail out our country?

  • Joe Hartley

    The problem with King-Drew was that it was a Democratic Party equivalent of Halliburton. Billions went into the hopital with no accountability as to how it was spent and no shame when repeated stories appeared about the corruption and incompetence of management. Maxine Waters proved to be a Dick Cheney clone when it came to protecting King-Drew management from any consequences.

    The LA Times, in past years when it was still a real newspaper, did series after series on King-Drew, with dismaying reports: chiefs of staff putting in for impossible overtime (there are, after all, only 24 hours in the day) when they were vacationing in Hawaii, a near-total lack of financial controls, huge amounts of money that simply vanished with no idea of where they ended up. As a result, as the Times reported on Saturday, the staff did not sterilize the broncodilators after use, thus permitting the easy spread of infection, and were unable to locate the necessary equipment in a pediatric emergency, or even calculate the appropriate dose for an infant. If this sounds like Iraq and Halliburton, it’s because there’s no significant difference between the two except who’s getting and wasting public funds.

    One would hope that the LA County Grand Jury would now do a thorough investigation of King-Drew management, and indictments would start flowing. That will probably happen at about the same time that the American political class develops some sophistication on the role of the US in international affairs that is more subtle and nuanced than the adolescent notion that we can throw our weight around whenever we want to.

  • Joe Hartley

    I forgot to add: if we were not in Iraq, King-Drew would never have closed. Until the Iraq invasion, military surgeons came to King-Drew to train in the ER because it was the only place in the country that had a reliably-frequent number of gunshot wounds on which the surgeons could gain experience. Since our experience in Iraq, however, the military appears to have outsourced the training to Iraq to supply the victims instead of Willowbrook/Watts in LA. If we weren’t in Iraq, I doubt the military would have countenanced the idea of closing King-Drew, or, at least, the ER.

    Another fact that is rarely mentioned is the changing demographics of the area where King-Drew is located. There is enormous tension between African American and Hispanic residents throughout LA County. King-Drew was established in Willowbrook after the 1965 Watts riots when the surrounding community, thanks to serious informal residential segregation in Los Angeles, was almost exclusively African American. Now Watts is almost two-thirds Hispanic, and many traditionally African American areas are suffering similar demographic change. The struggle within the Democratic Party to replace an African American congresswoman who died recently while representing an area which is now majority Hispanic is a harbinger of things to come. How this played out in King-Drew isn’t clear, but it’s doubtless a factor, even if a minor one.

  • John

    Where I live, in Oregon, our county’s public libraries have been closed since April, and law enforcement officers have been laid off. Many rural counties, especially in our part of the nation, have traditionally been compensated by the federal government for allowing their land resources to be exploited. This year, those payments to our county ended. Turns out the government needs the money to continue shoveling down the Iraq rat hole. When friends from other parts of the country express shock that we have no libraries, I tell them “This is coming your way.” Crumbling infrastructure, lousy (or no) social services, nonexistent health care, shitty schools and substandard local law enforcement can all be added to the long list that will be the toxic legacy of the criminal Bush administration.

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