Dr. Elaine Batchlor (File photo)

Dr. Batchlor will be one of the honorees at the Power, Leadership & Influence of the Black Woman Luncheon 

Dr. Elaine Batchlor, chief executive officer of MLK Community Healthcare, will be honored at Bakewell Media’s Power, Leadership & Influence of the Black Woman event on April 15, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Batchlor will be saluted alongside the newly-elected Mayor Karen Bass and other prominent women including LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins and veteran broadcaster Pat Prescott.

“I feel honored to be in the company of the other women that are being honored at the same time,” remarked Dr. Batchlor. “I’m deeply flattered by it.”

Batchlor is a member of the Zetema Project, a group of national health experts focused on improving policy and business decisions in the US healthcare system. (Courtesy photo)

What has powered Dr. Elaine Batchlor’s ascent? Perhaps it’s the waterproof Skechers she dons daily down the hospital halls?

“I’ve never been the buttoned-down, formal type of person; I’m a little bit rebellious,” she says.

Maybe the years spent retreating to the library for hours of voracious reading as an outcast youngster in her hometown of Maryland?

“I became comfortable with being different. And thinking differently,” she says.

Could it be the cache of poetry one of her beloved twin sons (a pre-med chip off the old block, incidentally) composed and gifted her for Christmas?

“He’s a good kid, exactly the kind of person you would want to be a doctor, really disciplined and meticulous,” she explains.

Whatever the fuel, Dr. Batchelor has been the motor that has transformed, not only a facility, but innumerable lives through an innovative health system that includes a state-of-the-art private safety net hospital, the MLK Community Medical Group, community and population health programs, and a fundraising foundation.

“My initial vision of what a doctor was shaped by my exposures before I even went to medical school,” said Batchlor. “I could actually trace it back to a book I read about St. Luke, the way that a career in medicine was portrayed…it had three parts: one part scientific discovery; one part healing individuals; and one part healing communities and addressing social and political drivers of health. I always had this as a picture in my mind of what my career would encompass. I really wanted to have a larger impact at a system level.”

With MLK Community Healthcare, she’s done just that. The hospital was previously dubbed “Killer King” because of its disturbing track record of seemingly avoidable medical tragedies some years back. Today, they are a Medicare five-star-rated hospital, a private safety net hospital that serves a very low-income community with high-quality care.

MLK Community Healthcare is denoted as what the industry calls “M7,” which means they are at the highest level of use of health information technology in a hospital. Six-and-one-half percent of hospitals in the United States are at that level.

“I trained at a county hospital, and I saw firsthand the human cost of a system that was not optimal,” said Batchlor. “It motivated me to want to do work on the system and not just on the individuals.

A graduate of Harvard, UCLA and Case Western Reserve Medical School, Dr. Batchlor began her medical career as a Rheumatologist.

“I loved the science behind rheumatology,” she recalled. “It’s an extremely complex, elegant, biological system, so I was really intellectually fascinated by that. The patients are struggling with pain and disability from having musculoskeletal disease, and as a rheumatologist, you are able to significantly improve their condition.”

The drive to help people has been a theme, and a secret to fulfillment as well as success for Batchlor, who served as chief medical officer of L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest public health plan providing care for a safety net population, prior to joining MLK.

Among Batchlor’s recent accomplishments at the hospital is the establishment of a cardiac catheterization lab where tests can be performed to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.

MLK also opened a diabetic wound center last year, the first ever in South L.A. with two hyperbaric oxygen chambers and a program that prevents diabetics from having their limbs amputated.

Batchlor’s focus remains sharply on expansion and effectiveness. “We want to expand the types of services that we are able to provide our community over time, and we want the capabilities of our hospital and health system to match the needs of the community,” she said.