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A blind eye toward hospital woes

September 11, 2007

Re "The once and future King," Opinion, Sept. 9

Not one of the five writers about the former Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center made even a passing reference to the only reason the hospital closed: a dangerously and stubbornly incompetent medical and nursing staff. Each writer does the community a disservice by turning a blind eye to the truth. These articles were as inexcusable as the hospital's mistreatment of its patients.

Steve Meister

Sherman Oaks

*

The series on the hospital was an utter waste of newsprint. Robert Ross, president and chief executive of the California Endowment, recounts the history of King-Drew [later King-Harbor Hospital] for the umpteenth time; L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, on whose watch King descended into fatal ineptitude, offers platitudes and promises long unkept; Thomas Priselac, president and chief executive of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who heads one of the finest hospitals in the world and has access to a generous donor base, offers nothing in the way of solutions; and E. Richard Brown, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, tells us that South L.A. must have better healthcare. Wow, how provocative!

At least Hector Flores, former chairman of the King-Drew Hospital Advisory Board, used his space to offer a solution. The whole idea of having an Opinion section is to challenge readers and inspire our community to do better. On all accounts, much like King-Harbor, The Times receives failing marks.

Larry Weisenberg

Sherman Oaks

*

The articles concerning King-Harbor Hospital made many valid points. Unfortunately, none mentioned the key reason why we have such poor medical coverage in the area served by this facility and throughout much of the rest of the city -- money.

The law requires that emergency rooms treat whoever walks in regardless of the ability to pay. It is a fact that any medical facility with between 25% and 35% of its clientele covered by Medi-Cal will go bankrupt. This is why, every year, fewer and fewer hospitals have emergency rooms and fewer and fewer doctors will accept patients covered by any state program, be it Medi-Cal or workers' comp.

Those without insurance have a further effect on operations because government officials, regardless of all their talking, provide nowhere near enough to cover the cost of treatment.

If we are serious about caring for this part of our city's medical needs, then we are going to have to increase the amount we pay those providing it so they can at least afford to stay in business.

Chris Daly

Yucaipa

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