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Charles Drew University Settles Lawsuit Against L.A. County
Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science has settled a lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles-a decision that opens the way for the restoration of a longtime relationship that had become strained by the downsizing of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital more than two years ago.
Dr. Keith C. Norris, Charles Drew's Interim President, was applauded after he announced the settlement at a recent campus forum in the Keck Auditorium.
"In my office right now is a document I need to sign for the official, final resolution of the lawsuit between the County and the University," he said.
Meanwhile, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes the University, praised the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the University's Board of Trustees for putting an end to the litigation.
"This lawsuit has been a source of bitterness for the past several years and an impediment to progress in clinical services and research," Ridley-Thomas said in a statement released by his office.
While the terms of the settlement have not been released, Dr. Norris said the agreement was a win for both sides and rekindles a vibrant relationship that benefits the community.
"The County of Los Angeles is a potential partner that has a lot of resources that can help us become self-sustaining," he said. "It can leverage its strength to help enhance our institution."
Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, acting on a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, approved a plan to reopen
Martin Luther King Jr. hospital by 2012 and authorized County officials to negotiate with the University of California to provide clinical services.
Reopening of the hospital is a key element of a larger plan to restructure health care delivery in South Los Angeles, one of the most underserved areas in the country.
Dr. Norris said Charles Drew University looks forward to being part of that long-term strategy. "Our institution is the only institution in
the area with a documented, track record of graduating health professionals who serve communities with the greatest need," he said.
Located in South Los Angeles, CDU makes its home in the largest and most diverse urban, underserved communities in the nation. Nowhere in the United States is the need for trained physicians, health professionals and access to quality care more acute. In the communities surrounding the University, there are fewer than a dozen pediatricians for every 100,000 children, nearly a third of the adults are uninsured, and preventive screenings--for diabetes, breast cancer or prostate cancer--are not routine.
CDU is the only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Service Health Professions School in the nation. It is recognized as a leader in health inequities and translational research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health and HIV/AIDS.
Since its first student enrollments in 1971, Charles Drew University has graduated over 500 physicians, 1,200 physician assistants, 2,800 physician specialists, and numerous other healthcare professionals-almost all of whom are from diverse backgrounds and most of whom are dedicated to careers working in underserved communities.
In the 2009 class of Charles Drew/UCLA MD program, seven out of 28 students-or 25% of the students-were inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Society, the only national medical honor society. In addition, graduates from CDU have been selected by some of the most competitive medical centers in the nation to complete their residencies.
College of Science and Health (COSH) graduates are highly sought after by healthcare employers seeking physician assistants, radiographers, substance abuse counselors, and others in health-related professions. COSH has trained physician assistants longer than any other program in the state.
Meanwhile, one-third of Los Angeles County's minority doctors were trained at Charles Drew, and the College of Medicine's graduates are two to three times more likely to practice in diverse and medically underserved communities than physicians trained in traditional medical schools.
Charles Drew University has become a dominant force in translational research, focusing on quickly converting findings into practical approaches to medicine at the community level. CDU is ranked in the top ten percent of more than 3,400 institutions supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is ranked in the top 50 private universities in research funding, as rated by the Center for Measuring University Performance.