Federal officials agreed Friday to extend funding to the downsized Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, according to county officials, ending weeks of uncertainty and allowing county health officials to continue the troubled hospital's transformation.
However, according to preliminary descriptions of the plan, the federal government would provide money for just one month. The county and potentially the state or other sources would have to provide the remainder of the $60 million needed to keep the facility open through mid-August and prepare MLK-Harbor for its next federal inspection. The extension would also preserve potential slots for 250 medical residents.
County health officials confirmed receiving a proposal from the federal Medicare agency, "which is being considered by county, state and federal officials," a statement said.
With continued federal funding, MLK-Harbor near Watts is slated to increase from the current 48 beds to 114 beds by November and keep its doors open to its patients, most of whom are uninsured minorities.
Details of the formal proposal are to be considered Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
County officials drastically scaled back hospital services after MLK-Harbor, formerly Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, flunked a critical federal inspection last year. The failure caused federal officials to consider withdrawing $200 million in funding, nearly half the hospital's budget.
To forestall that, the county eliminated King/Drew's specialty services, cut the number of beds, reassigned every employee and ended the relationship with the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, forcing medical residents there to find new placements.
The county also put the former King/Drew, in Willowbrook, under the management of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance.