People often ask me why does the Sentinel cover so much political news? Well the closing of Martin Luther King Hospital is exactly why. Decisions like, ‘will we keep the hospital opened or closed’ requires strong leadership, and people who we know will ultimately have our community and our people at the forefront of their agenda.
The closing of Martin Luther King/Harbor General Hospital is an absolute tragedy. To deprive the residents of Watts, Compton and South Los Angeles (some of the poorest communities in all of Los Angeles County) the basic service of health care is something that cannot and will not be tolerated.
Now, I will be the first to admit that I have been critical of the quality or lack there of, of care that Martin Luther King/Harbor General Hospital has provided and I was also very critical and demanded that staff, administrators and those in charge answer for the death of the lady who was denied care and died on the waiting room floor. But, never in my wildest dreams did I believe they would completely remove health care and/or completely close the hospital.
In my opinion, closing King is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. To just close the hospital and say “we need to re-think where the hospital is and where we are going with operating the hospital” is nothing more than a politically easy answer for those individuals who don’t live where, don’t need and don’t care about those people who are affected by the closing of Martin Luther King Hospital.
Now, I applaud the work of Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Diane Watson, Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally and all of the other local politicians who have and who continue to stand up and fight to keep this desperately needed hospital and these vital services available to the residents of our community. But, the truth is they cannot do it alone. We must all stand and support the political leaders that we have elected to represent our community.
The closing of this facility is an assault on the basic standards of living that each and every American has been promised. We cannot just sit back and calmly ignore and/or accept this situation. The closing of this hospital is not someone else’s problem; it’s all of ours, because it is a slap in the face of the least of us, which inevitably is a slap in the face of us all.
We must ask some serious questions and I encourage all of you to take up the mantle and write and/or call the members of the Board of Supervisors who decided to close the hospital. Don’t just call Supervisor Burke, but call the other four supervisors as well and let them know that they are playing with your life and the lives of your family by making these arbitrary decisions. Let them know that you want and need answers and you need them now. Ask them what is the plan. Let them know that closing a hospital without any plans of how to provide an entire community with basic services in unconscionable and will not be tolerated. Let them know that their actions are borderline criminal and that our people will not accept this quietly.
We here at the Sentinel will keep you posted as to what is going on, but I can assure you that the only way we are going to get action is to take action. We must not accept this as just another bad day in our community, because another bad day, could mean another last day for someone close to you or close to me.
So, whether you agree or disagree, now more than ever I really need your input. I need to hear from you. I need to know what is going on in our community. I also need to know what other stories we need to tell, and what is on your mind. I really do want to hear from you, I want you to “Talk to Danny.”
Danny J. Bakewell, Jr.
President & Executive Editor