Monday—July 6, California State Senator Holly Mitchell met with Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital. Senator Mitchell and Dr. Batchlor shared a brief discussion about the importance of protecting the hospital’s budget.
Over the past two weeks, Los Angeles County has recorded 31,610 new cases of COVID-19; in that time, there have been 366 related deaths. Currently, MLKCH is hospitalizing 50 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Since the hospital’s grand opening in 2015, MLKCH has staffed several first-rate doctors, developed state-of-the-art treatment programs, and expanded clinics with specialist care.
Dr. Elaine Batchlor claimed the facility “has one of the busiest emergency departments in the county. We have award-winning maternal health programs. We have programs that are attempting to reduce the burden of chronic illness in South L.A., which is why we’re seeing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19.”
Many have accepted MLKCH as a healthcare safety-net for over a million minorities in Los Angeles. Dr. Batchlor claimed that “Normally about 50% of patients are African American and the other 50% are Latinx.”
As the primary advocate for sustaining the budget for King’s Hospital, CA Sen. Holly Mitchell stated that “King’s Hospital is a safety-net provider. They provide critical services to many people who are uninsured and undocumented. And for all those reasons, from my perspective, it is really important that we protect the funding for this hospital.”
Since the announcement, “We are immensely grateful to Senator Mitchell for being our champion, our advocate and a leader for this community.” said Dr. Batchlor. She further acknowledged Sen. Mitchell “For making sure that this wonderful hospital, and all of the healthcare services we provide … will be able to continue!”
In late June, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Budget Act of 2020. A $202 billion spending plan that was written with the intent to strengthen emergency response, maintain public health and safety, and acquire economic recovery. Gov. Newsom issued a public statement that mentioned “State has passed a budget that is balanced, responsible and protects public safety and health, education, and services to Californians facing the greatest hardships.”
L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Assemblyman Mike Gipson, State Senator Steven Bradford were also among the political leaders for the sustained funding of MLKCH. Issued in a public statement, Assemblyman Mike Gipson of the 64th Assembly District stated that “my colleagues understood the importance of MLK Hospital and wholeheartedly supported maintaining the vital funding.”
Once budget negotiations concluded between the California legislature and Gov. Newsom, the finalized budget was signed in late June. Moreover, financial cuts were removed, which solidified a significant win for minorities. The Budget Act of 2020 (SB 74 Holly Mitchell & AB 89 Phil Ting) included a restoration of approximately $30 million in ongoing, supplemental payments for services at MLK Community Hospital.
In truth, around 80% of the patients at King Hospital are either insured by Medi-Cal or uninsured altogether; therefore, sanctioning the hospital as the community’s sole opportunity for healthcare. According to Senator Mitchell, “We must continue to fund critical health services for every Californian resident, but particularly for those who are uninsured and undocumented.”