A roundtable discussion involving key stakeholders was convened Friday, May 2, 2008 by Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) to discuss opportunities to re-open Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital (MLK Hospital). Ridley-Thomas was recently appointed Chair of the Senate Select Committee on the Los Angeles County Health Care Crisis, (SSC-LACHCC) and one of the objectives of the discussion was to engage key stakeholders in exploring viable options and identifying concrete steps toward re-opening MLK Hospital, and to start forming a working group to advise the Select Committee as it begins its work on this issue.
The roundtable was hosted by Dr. Robert Ross of the California Endowment, who has been instrumental in providing leadership and expertise on health care issues in Los Angeles.
The County was represented at the meeting by Sheila Shima, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles County, John Schunoff, Interim Director of the LA County Department of Health Services, and Dr. Robert Splawn, Interim Medical Director for LA County.
Others attending the meeting included: Dr. Cornelius Hopper, who chaired the Steering Committee on the Future of King/Drew Medical Center; Dr. Robert Tranquada, Professor Emeritus of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine; David Mauss, CEO of California Hospital Medical Center; Rodney Franks, Senior Vice President of the St. Francis Medical Center Foundation; Kathleen Billingsley, Deputy Director for Healthcare Quality for the California Department of Public Health; and Lark Galloway-Gilliam, Executive Director of Community Health Councils.
The roundtable included extensive discussion on the appropriate model for the re-opening of MLK Hospital, whether it should remain a county-run hospital, a private facility or a public/private partnership. The dialogue also included the need for a sustainable financial model, the ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce, and the specific health needs of the South Los Angeles community, including a trauma center.
One of the participants at the roundtable discussion was Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a former practicing surgeon at UCLA. Dr. Soon-Shiong stated that providing top-quality health care must be a priority when re-opening the facility. Dr. Soon-Shiong also argued that a public-private partnership, rather than a county-run facility or a for-profit hospital, is vital to establishing and maintaining a high-quality facility.
The SSC-LACHCC will hold its first informational hearing within the next few weeks in Los Angeles.