King/Drew supporter Maxine Waters
Two years ago we wrote about the fiscal and medical disaster called King/Drew hospital:
In the latest inspection of the hospital, federal officials cited several major medical errors, including a patient who waited to be seen in King/Drew’s emergency room for more than 13 hours without a medical screening. He later died of a dissecting aneurysm — a tear in a weakened blood vessel.
One patient died when his nurse turned off his cardiac arrest alarm “because it was making too much (damn) noise.”
Some employees habitually fail to show up, logging weeks, even months, of unexcused absences each year. And those who do come to work often don’t do their jobs, causing one consultant in 2002 to remark that they had “retired in place.” Others are distracted or impaired. County Civil Service Commission filings tell of staff members grabbing and clawing each other’s necks; inspection reports tell of patients literally dying of neglect.
The biggest reason that King/Drew is so screwed up is politics. It is run by the Los Angeles County Supervisors who don’t have the stomach to deal with an entity that was born out of the promised reconstruction following Los Angeles’ race riots in the 60’s. Instead of tackling the root causes of this deadly debacle including its unions, work rules, and decision-making based on everything other than qualifications, the pols have scrambled to point the finger elsewhere. When the Los Angeles Times pointed out how many people were dying of neglect at King/Drew, Representative Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) played the race card and attacked the paper’s coverage.
This was all two years ago, certainly time to address at least the most pressing problems. Specifically people dying of neglect inside the hospital’s four walls. It now operates under the name “Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital”. Here is a story from today’s Los Angeles Times underlying exactly how things are working at King/Drew:
A 43-year-old woman who writhed in pain for 45 minutes on the emergency room lobby floor of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital died of a perforated bowel, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said late Friday. Neither hospital staff nor other patients attempted to assist her as she lay dying.
Her bowel broke open less than 24 hours before her death, and experts have said she could have been treated if it had been caught early enough.
A videotape of the events shows the indifference of other patients and hospital staff, according to several people who saw it. At one point, a janitor cleaned around Rodriguez as she lay on the floor.
Dr. Bruce Chernof, director of the county Department of Health Services, said in a written statement that Rodriguez was not provided with compassionate service and that her death was “inexcusable.” “It is important to understand that this was fundamentally a failure of caring,” he said.
Next month the federal government will be inspecting the hospital and if it fails it will lose federal funding and close. Hopefully the feds will have the fortitude to do what the local pols have not and kill the hospital before it can kill again.
Underlying how clueless Maxine Waters, look at this letter sent by Waters to the new operators of King/Drew last October. (Excerpt)
We are indeed supportive of maintaining MLK as a public county facility, and we are very appreciative that the plan does not call for its privatization. While we understand that Harbor will undertake the management of the hospital, it is important to avoid consideration of a new name that would diminish the significance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital and its historical background.
So the most important things for her are that it not be privatized, the one thing that might have saved it and the branding. Perhaps she might want to think how a sloppy and callous hospital might not be the best way to honor Dr. King. With opinions like Waters, it is no surprise that the disfunction at King/Drew has been able to perceiver as long as it has.
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