LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Two African Americans are among the seven people–including healthcare and business experts and an attorney–recently approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to serve on the board of directors of the nonprofit entity being created to oversee operation of the new Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Hospital in Willowbrook. The prospective panelists last week were jointly nominated by Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka and Dr. John D. Stobo, University of California (U.C.) senior vice president for health sciences and services. They were approved by the county Board of Supervisors during a meeting Tuesday, and will now need the nod of the U.C. Board of Regents.

“A slate of premier leaders in the health care industry, business and law has been recommended for the independent governing board,” Fujioka said. “The board of directors will assume total responsibility for one of the most important tasks in health service delivery in L.A. County, the opening and operation of the new private, nonprofit MLK Hospital, in partnership with the U.C.

“The board nominees have our highest confidence,” the CEO said. “They will have our utmost support, as they embark on their board’s mission to bring quality health, emergency care and hospital services to the people of South Los Angeles.”

Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas expressed his support of those nominated. “I applaud the recommendations by the CEO of the accomplished and experienced individuals to serve as the first board members of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital. The recommendations clearly establish that a first-rate hospital board can be created without the involvement of political influences, which relieves the nominees of all obligations, other than that of serving the interests of patients in the underserved area of the county.”

The new members of the board are:
* Manuel A. Abascal, an attorney with Latham and Watkins specializing in government investigations, internal investigations and complex business litigation;
* Dr. Elaine Batchlor, chief medical officer of L.A. Care Health Plan;
* Linda Griego, president and CEO of Griego Enterprises, a business management company she founded in 1986;
* Paul King, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Medical Group;
* Michael Madden, retired CEO of Providence Healthcare of Southern California;
* Dr. Robert Margolis, managing partner and CEO of HealthCare Partners Medical Group; and
* James Yoshioka, retired president and CEO of Citrus Valley Health Partners.

“Not only do the board members bring great experience in serving large organizations, but they also understand the unique mission of MLK and its importance to the health needs of the community it serves,” Stobo said.

Dr. Bachlor believes the nomination and appointment will enable her to help advance the hospital’s distinctive mission. “The community needs and deserves better access to high-quality health care, and I believe I can contribute to achieving that. As a physician executive, my passion is for ensuring the availability of high-quality health care, especially for underserved communities.”

“The hospital will need to provide high quality services in a manner that is respectful and responsive to the community,” continued the physician. “Upon opening, the new MLK hospital should quickly become a hub for high-quality health care in South Los Angeles, connecting and coordinating with other community providers and resources.”

King , too, wants to bring quality care to an historically underserved community.

MLK Hospital is expected to open in 2013, with 120 beds and an emergency room. County officials said it would have the capacity to accommodate more than 30,000 annual patient visits, 10,000 annual outpatient visits and follow-up care.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also weighed in on the announcement, praising the nominated board members.

“(This) announcement marks another vital step toward the reopening of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital,” Schwarzenegger said. “The men and women jointly selected for this board are experienced individuals who are highly qualified to oversee hospital operations. I applaud the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the University of California for their continued and concurrent work with my administration to make this hospital a reality for the residents of South Los Angeles.”

“The community deserves to have quality healthcare available close to where they live. The new MLK Hospital will make that possible. When (the old) MLK closed, the entire community felt the impact. The ability to help the local and greater community improve access to needed services is what attracted me to this opportunity to serve.”

King added that the board will focus first and foremost on getting the hospital opened in 2013.

There will be ample opportunity to receive input from the local community regarding the services needed most by the people who live there.

A critical component of the hospital planning is to develop shared services agreements between the hospital and the county for outpatient services, particularly the MLK Multiservice Ambulatory Care Center, which is already located on the campus.

“L.A. County and the University of California have done an excellent job of putting together a board that has extensive experience operating major medical enterprises (including hospitals, medical groups and health plans). It is extraordinary to have that collection of skills on a community hospital board. I believe that collectively, we will ensure the success of the new MLK in restoring quality healthcare services for the community.”