Something I touched on the other day about hospitals

Posted: July 10, 2008 in Our Health, Politics

In a discussion I had here the other day, I briefly talked about the disturbing trend of bad hospitals found in many low-income Black/Hispanic communities. These hospitals have consistently failed their communities–not primarily because of funding, but because oftentimes they employ low-skilled workers (usually Black/Hispanic) while local politicians use them to shield these institutions from criticism.

Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital was one of those hospitals. Anytime there was a threat to shut the hospital down due to poor performance, local politicians like Maxine Waters quickly turned it into a race issue causing city officials to back down from their threat (the same argument was used for Grady in Atlanta as well). Last year, both state and local officials were able to shut most of the hospital down leaving King-Harbor with just several outpatient clinics. Unfortunately, business as usual is still the order of the day at King-Harbor.

From the LA Times 7/3/08 [link]:

Los Angeles County government leaders blamed their own employees for many of the problems that forced the closure of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, the notoriously troubled public medical center near Watts. Some workers had neglected patients. Others had gone missing for months. So when the hospital ended inpatient and emergency operations last August, county supervisors promised to “wipe the slate clean” of problem employees.

But a Times review of personnel data and disciplinary appeals shows that at least 22 employees with significant disciplinary histories at King either still work at what remains of the facility — several outpatient clinics — or have been reassigned to other county hospitals. Exactly how many problem employees from King are on the job remains a mystery.


Some members of the Board of Supervisors expressed dismay at The Times’ findings, saying they showed that the board had failed to make good on its pledge a year ago. “It frankly sticks in my craw that we have not been able to deal with the people who personified the culture that caused King to close,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. “We have not fulfilled our promise to clean things up.”

Here’s one of their findings–

* Danielle Jordan, a nursing attendant suspended in 2005 for sleeping while she was assigned to keep watch over patient heart monitors. Healthcare officials noted that her behavior occurred while the hospital was under “serious scrutiny” by state and federal regulators and “could have had frightening consequences” for patients.

And this factoid from Wikipedia~

In April (’07), 60% of 285 registered and licensed vocational nurses failed one or more parts of basic clinical competency assessments; while more than 10% failed three or more sections of the assessment. The staff of Harbor-UCLA was surprised by the by the amount of training King-Harbor employees needed.


This next story was on the front of today’s online edition of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution~

Officials furious over Grady CEO’s deal


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