CNS - The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science filed a $125 million lawsuit against Los Angeles County, accusing officials of mishandling operations at King-Drew Medical Center.
The lawsuit, filed [April 23] in Los Angeles Superior Court's Compton courthouse, accuses county officials of failing to maintain the accreditation of Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center, leading to the loss of $200 million in annual Medicare funding and the decision to downsize the medical center into a community hospital.
"We are eager to have our day in court -- to provide a forum for all the victims of the county's unconscionable disregard for this university's inspired mission, a 35-year partnership, our valued students, faculty, employees and, most acutely, the poor and indigent of the community who have no voice and now have unacceptable alternatives for their healthcare," said Dr. Susan Kelly, university president.
Officials with the county Department of Health Services did not have an immediate comment on the litigation.
In September, King-Drew failed a federal inspection, prompting county supervisors to end Los Angeles County's relationship with Drew University. That decision left 248 residents from 15 training programs in "education limbo," according to the lawsuit.
"We have no recourse but to seek justice for the betrayal and major damage that will take this university years to overcome and to re-establish itself," said Bart H. Williams, chairman of the university's Board of Trustees.
"The bigger question remains -- if our university is hindered in its mission to produce dedicated, trained physicians and specialists for this acutely underserved community, where will future medical practitioners come from?"
King-Drew failed a "make-or-break" inspection last fall and had been expected to lose its federal funding, about $200 million, provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
CMS officials later agreed to continue funding the hospital through
April 30. CMS also agreed to extend the hospital's Medicare certification until Aug. 15, which will allow the hospital to keep 250 resident slots. The renamed MLK-Harbor Hospital will not be reimbursed for any Medicare and Medicaid patients treated after May 1.
Drew University opened in 1966, and five years later Los Angeles County opened Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital across the street from the university's campus. The hospital was later renamed King-Drew to acknowledge the county and university's partnership.
In March, Drew University officials announced their intention to sue the county, but, under state law, had to wait 45 days to file the lawsuit.