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Accountability for King-Harbor

June 28, 2007

Re "Board votes to keep King open," June 27

Based on 30 years of experience in human resources, I would suggest that the one solution to the crisis at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital is to close the hospital and discharge all of the employees (administrators, doctors, nurses and maintenance employees) without recall rights. After the closure, it should be reopened with a new staff. A qualified interview staff should review the qualifications of all applicants before they are hired. Previous employees could apply but would not be rehired unless they passed the interview process and then would be hired with day-one seniority. It should take about six months to complete this process, and then the community would have a quality hospital.


Agoura Hills


Re "Burke is quiet on fate of hospital," June 26

Yes, L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke is a particularly disengaged leader who has neglected her needy district for years. However, the real failure at the heart of the King-Harbor tragedy has its roots not in the stupor of any single representative but in the structure of Los Angeles County government. Running the largest local government in America by committee (the Board of Supervisors) is nonsensical: It offers neither accountability (who is in charge?) nor representation that reflects our diverse communities (only five seats to represent 10 million people).

The founders of this nation figured out 230 years ago that the best way to protect government from gross incompetence was through a balance of powers. Los Angeles needs real charter reform to create a single, elected county executive balanced by a part-time, representative county council. Until then, the regular drumbeat of failure and drift will hardly seem like news.


Los Angeles


Re "What's the remedy for King-Harbor?" letters, June 26

I take offense to the claims made in a recent letter indicating that our medical school should bear responsibility for the failure of King-Harbor. This is baseless for a number of reasons, namely:

* The university fulfilled its responsibility to provide the hospital with quality personnel and physician training services. County Department of Health Services Director Dr. Bruce Chernof acknowledged in a Nov. 27, 2006, letter that the hospital's "deficiencies did not directly relate to the operation of the training programs, the quality of physicians' oversight of the residents or the residents' conduct in the hospital."

* The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' 195-page report cited major issues with governance, nursing, pharmacy, infection control, environment and patients' rights, among other causes, for the loss of the hospital's certification. The university played no part in the events that triggered the loss of accreditation at the hospital or the tragic events that have prompted California to take steps to revoke the hospital's operating license. Any problems attributed to the university were limited to oversight of graduate medical education, were unrelated to clinical care, occurred several years ago and were fully corrected.

The university received full reaccreditation of its residency programs in April 2006 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Only the county can explain why such a vital resource as this hospital was engineered to fail. We eagerly await that explanation in court.


President, chief executive

Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Los Angeles

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