CNS – The short list of candidates to re-open and run Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital has been narrowed to three, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services officials said.
Still in the running are Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, Catholic Healthcare West and the University of California.
Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, a for-profit general acute care hospital — was the only one of the five organizations that submitted formal proposals to the county that was qualified to run the King-Harbor facility, health officials told the county Board of Supervisors.
“Four of the five proposals that were solicited through the Request for Solutions process did not identify their qualifications to operate a hospital, they did not identify a hospital operator with experience operating an in-patient hospital and an emergency department, and that was one of the minimum requirements in our proposal,” John R. Cochran, chief deputy director of the Department of Health Services told the Board.
“Only one, Pacific, which operates a hospital, can identify how they would go about this work,” he said.
The Board had also solicited three other potential operators to run the hospital.
Two of these operators, Catholic Healthcare West, a not-for-profit hospital provider headquartered in San Francisco, and the University of California are still conducting direct discussions with health representatives.
But Daughters of Charity Health System, a regional health care provider, decided to drop out of the running, Cochran said.
“Daughters of Charity this morning confirmed that they are not able to participate in operating the re-opened MLK hospital,” Cochran said.
He also told the Board that the University of California would not involve the UCLA campus with their plans for the hospital.
“They’re looking at it as a UC system initiative… UCLA is not involved,” he said.
DHS officials said a recommendation for the hospital operator should be completed by the end of January.
If the board approves the recommendation the county would then begin discussions to negotiate a final agreement with the operator.
If the board does not approve the final recommendation, the hospital would be run as a county facility, said Supervisor Yvonne Burke. Whether UCLA is involved or not, the Board has made no secret of their desire to have the UC system involved with the re-opening of the hospital.
“Having the UC system involved would be a spectacular achievement and resolution to a very sad episode,” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
The department placed ads in newspapers last month, requesting proposals from private companies interested in taking over the beleaguered Willowbrook hospital.
King-Harbor had been plagued in recent years by patient deaths and allegations of mismanagement and poorly trained staffers. Its failure of a “make-or-break” August inspection by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services meant the loss of $200 million in federal funding — more than half of the medical center’s annual budget.
The hospital’s emergency room and inpatient services were phased out within days, leaving only an urgent-care center in its place.
Board members have said they want the hospital to re-open within a year.