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What's the remedy for King-Harbor?

June 26, 2007

Re "University leader stresses campus isn't King-Harbor," June 22

Susan Kelly, president of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, stated, "We had some part to play" in the failure of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. I propose that the medical school bears about 90% of the responsibility rather than the 10% acknowledged. L.A. County-USC, Harbor-UCLA and Olive View-UCLA medical centers are renowned for their quality of care. They are taught and, most important, are supervised in their patient care by superb medical faculty dedicated to their mission of research, treatment and teaching.

These hospitals are county institutions with the same managers, unions, civil service rules, staffing challenges and shortages of funds faced by all municipal hospitals struggling to serve the poorest of our population. How is it then that only King-Harbor lost accreditation of training programs, failed to supervise residents properly and allowed a noble effort to care for the underserved to fail?

We all owe the poor a great debt. They allow our doctors in training to practice on them before they care for us. These trainees and their patients deserve the best possible faculty. Surely a county with two major medical schools can find a way to care for all patients properly. Surely the Board of Supervisors, the health department and the major school deans can find a way to maintain King-Harbor with qualified trainees and teachers. No municipal hospital can exist without them.

DAVID B. SIEVERS MD

Tarzana

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Re "Close King-Harbor," editorial, June 24

The Times' editorial advocates closing Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. The Times ignores all the patients who have had good-to-excellent treatment at the hospital over the many years of its existence and all the dedicated and capable staff there. What is really wrong at King-Harbor is the built-in system of civil service that makes it impossible to get rid of incompetent workers and administrators.

SAM FRENCH

Rancho Palos Verdes

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The closing of King-Harbor would be a terrible waste of a valuable facility. All of the problems are due to the lack of caring and the incompetence of many of its staff. The L.A. County supervisors should offer bonuses to attract a better staff or sell to an experienced, privately owned hospital.

JORDAN AUSTIN

Port Hueneme

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If the people in the community served by King-Harbor want it to stay open, they absolutely must not go down the usual path. They need to avoid placing blame on the politicians and hiding behind the skirts of "Old Mother Racism." They need to launch protests at and in the hospital demanding that incompetent employees be terminated immediately. The next step would be to base the level of service offered on the level of employees left and then increase it as more competent employees are hired. In the end, this battle is for that community to win or lose.

RICHARD MEYERS

Granada Hills

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